All the Beating Hearts

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Jan. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823452163.
Gr 1-4–With each new day, life presents individuals with a variety of choices, opportunities, and challenges. Even though these daily experiences may look different for everyone, Fogliano, in this quiet ode to the power of connection, reminds readers of the thing that they have in common: a beating heart. Through a range of daily experiences, from eating meals and playing with friends, to experiencing loss and growing up, readers are reminded that they aren’t alone. That even when their experiences are different from the person sitting next to them, that each heartbeat is “a reminder that we are here and alive together but apart the same, but exactly different.” The poetry here has a natural, gentle rhythm, created by purposeful line breaks and page turns. Use of all lowercase letters and lengthy run-on sentences inform this rhythm as well and create an accessible, childlike feel. Emotive pastel and colored pencil illustrations not only carefully match the time of day and activity, but also the sentiments expressed on each page, whether grief, growth, or loneliness. With a lot to unpack for students, this beautiful reminder that they are not alone is best for one-on-one or smaller group settings.
VERDICT Thoughtful poetry and expressive illustrations could make for a meaningful conversation; purchase where message-driven stories are used to amplify SEL lessons.

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