Belonging Street

by | Oct 2, 2020 | Book Review, Poetry

Belonging street (cover)

Book Details

Belonging Street
Mandy Coe, illus. Mandy Coe, Burley Gate, Hereford: Otter-Barry Books, pb 978 1 9130 7480 7, 2020, £7.99, 96pp.
Poetry, 7-11 years

This is another in the series of small stuff-in-your-schoolbag poetry books. Each year a less well-known author is included, this year’s choice being Mandy Coe.

The poems, in their quest for a sense of belonging, include nature and the environment, family, city life and community, and also puzzles and trick use of words. Unusual subjects are a tree that saved a town; dip your toes in the Milky Way; and a seed city. The titles are often intriguing and it is difficult to guess the contents: ‘Take the Leap’, ‘Slow Stoppies and Hops’, ‘Phooey to One-Upping’. All the poems though address feeling alive in many different situations and places.

Here are a few verses from ‘She Belongs to the World’ which express the idea that all the world is home:
Drifting through Albania
from mountain tops to forest floor,
she is flutur.

In Estonia,
her wings as bright as stained glass,
she is liblikas.

Tumbling from the sky,

summer has arrived.
She is Butterfly.

‘Ode to a Stepladder’ is not what I expected!:
We met at a birthday party.
I was holding a balloon,
he was propped against a wall.
I like your rungs, I said.

The title poem ‘Belonging Street’ describes the various houses lived in:
We live at Leaky Roof, This Place.
We brush our teeth
in a washing up bowl
at Leaky Roof, This Place.
None of us sleeps deeply
at Leaky Roof, This Place.
We used to live at
Back Home, the Old Place.

The illustrations add a dimension to each poem. ‘Animals Name the Constellations’ show a cat, a child and a dog sitting under a tree looking up at three animal constellations, their outlines made of stars. ‘Down the Plughole’ has a duck and a plug by the plughole. You can’t help smiling.

These poems will be loved by children. There are twists and turns in every poem, giving surprises and quotable lines with which to tease friends.

For three double spreads, have a look at the Otter-Barry website (scroll down).

Review by JJH

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