The Girl Who Became a Tree

(1 customer review)


Joseph Coelho uses the legend of Daphne, who became a laurel tree to spurn the advances of Apollo, in this poetry- novel for older readers. However, in The Girl Who Became a Tree, Daphne cuts off the world to cope with her grief that threatens to drown her. Deep within the library, she seeks solitude, and the sanctuary of books and her phone. The librarian understands, though Daphne still hears a clamour of the outside world. She seems to retire further as though she has entered the origins of the wood of the bookcase so as to become something primordial. Thereafter, only her memories of her father exist. She is solid in grief and aloneness, and entirely isolated.

Yet is this enough for Daphne? Are her father’s last words enough to exist upon? What about other memories, for example when she spurned the final opportunity to see him? Thereafter, what about her mother and friends? Can Daphne find a way back to the real world? Will they reach out and want her?

Joseph Coelho constructs unimaginably touching, sensitive and intricate poems, in a wide variety of forms and rhythms that bring Daphne’s feelings and situation to perfect life. There are moments throughout reading this story that I was left in tears. What tenderness, anger and guilt!

Somehow, magically, Kate Milner shows Daphne’s feelings, actions and retreat so that they are utterly in tune with the writer’s words. We are in the pages of master craftspeople.

Bookwagon recommends The Girl Who Became a Tree to all older readers. We suggest that this book is likely to appear on school lists, recommendations, syllabuses. We are astounded and moved by this creation.

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The Girl Who Became a Tree

A Story Told in Poems

by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner

(Otter- Barry Books)– hardback

The Girl Who Became a Tree is Daphne, retreated into the library between books and shelves and her phone. She is angry and alone in her thoughts and memories of her tree surgeon father. Thereafter, it seems that all she needs are his words and consolation, the safety of books and the security of her phone.
However, Daphne is lured through a hollow by Hoc who promises her the void she seeks. It seems that in this woodland of nothingness, Daphne can root herself into oblivion. However, what if this antipathy is not what Daphne seeks, really?  While she is rooted in sadness it seems as though Daphne is growing ever bitter and more angry. However, what of other flickering roots of feeling? As Daphne grieves for her father she recalls how she turned away from him as he declined. Thereafter she thinks of her mother, the friends she’s spurned and wonders how she can find a way back.
Bookwagon loves the works of Joseph Coelho, from Luna Loves Library Day to his award- winning Overheard in a Tower Block. We know this poet to be a tour-de-force, empathetic, sensitive and skilled wordsmith. He and acclaimed, award wining illustrator Kate Milner, from My name is not Refugee, have created an outstanding work. The Girl Who Became a Tree deserves to be read, shared and discussed in classrooms, reading groups and homes across the country. This is a magnificent work.

1 review for The Girl Who Became a Tree

  1. Paula Hale

    This is truly stunning. I absolutely devoured it and did not want it to end. The words and illustrations are magical and beautiful at sharing Daphne’s feelings. One of those books to be read again and again.

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