The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho
There’s no getting away from the fact that the verse novel is one of my favourite formats at the moment. Here’s another one for you and this one is beautifully illustrated too, by Kate Milner. It’s also set in a library so it couldn’t be any more appealing to me.
Daphne is mourning the death of her father and shuts out the grief of the real world by losing herself in her phone and the library. Her Mum, a nurse, is often working late so she goes to the local library to seek comfort in books. The librarian knows her and often keeps books to one side for her. On one particular day, Daphne realises she’s lost her phone and the librarian guides her to a hidden hole in one of the bookcases and there, Daphne starts a journey through a magical forest and finds a creature who wants to keep her with him.
There are lots of different types of poems in the novel, such as pantoums, rondels, limericks and concrete shape poems, and they cleverly interweave the myth of Daphne and Apollo (Daphne was turned into a laurel tree by Apollo) with Daphne’s feelings as she struggles to cope with her loss.
This is an imaginative novel, written with such poetic skill, it takes the verse novel to another level. Kate Milner’s illustrations add to the intensity and atmosphere of the narrative.
I’d recommend this for all year groups. A heart breaking novel that fuses myth, fantasy and reality and offers hope in the depths of despair.