Creech, Sharon. (2004). Heartbeat. New York: Scholastic, Inc. (partnered with HarperCollins Publishers)
Literary Genre: Poetry (Chapter Book)
Twelve-year-old Annie loves “running running running”. Especially barefoot running. She likes to feel her bare feet hit the soft earth and the wind on her face. Running is the glue that bonds Annie to many of the important people in her life. Her mother and grandfather were both runners. Her best friend, Max runs barefoot with her nearly every day, but he runs to escape his life. Max is moody, disadvantaged, and maybe even a little jealous of Annie’s family. Max’s grandfather died and his father left. Annie, on the other hand, has a loving, growing family. Annie’s mother is expecting a baby and her grandfather’s health and memory is unstable, so he moves in with Annie and her parents. Although Annie’s grandfather is losing his memory, there are moments when he shares his life experiences and wisdom with both Annie and Max. As one life is starting and another is ending, Annie gets to thinking about who people are and how they become who they are.
Max sees running in track as his ticket out of the small town where the story takes place and Annie’s reluctance to join the track team seems to cause some tension in their friendship. While running is a major theme of this novel, Annie is also an artist. At school, Annie is given an assignment to draw the same apple for 100 days. Annie takes the assignment more seriously than her classmates do and she starts to view the apple (a symbol for life) from different perspectives. The baby’s birth brings change and resolution to the novel. Annie is trying to understand herself and those around her, but everything is changing. Will Annie learn to accept these changes and understand those around her? Read to find out.
Sharon Creech writes this touching story in free verse poems. This format paired with strategic repetition allows the reader to feel the rhythm of Annie’s story. From the “thump-thump, thump-thump” of the running to the “a-whoosh-a-whoosh-a-whoosh” of the baby’s heartbeat, Creech’s utilization of onomatopoeias bring the story to life. The flow of the verses also lends itself well to developing Annie’s voice. Heartbeat is without a doubt quality poetry/children’s literature. The novel portrays emotion, insight, and a fresh viewpoint. Creech’s effective usage of language and poetic devices gives Annie a sincere voice that readers can connect to. I absolutely loved this novel! I was intrigued by the realness and complexity of the relationships between Annie and the other characters.
-Visit the Author's Website at http://www.sharoncreech.com/index.html
-For running tips visit http://www.kidsrunning.com/krasktraining.html
-A Literature Circle Guide (For Teachers) http://teacher.scholastic.com/clubs/pdfs/heartbeat_t.pdf