Creech, Sharon. 2004. HEARTBEAT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN: 0060540230.
Heartbeat is an endearing verse novel narrated by Annie (age 12). She loves to run. She loves to draw. Both hobbies fill her
spare time--and most of the content--of these brief poems. Max is Annie's best friend--but as the novel unfolds--the relationship
does have its strains. Friendship is never something to be taken for granted. Another thing that can't be taken for granted
is the health of her grandfather. Annie's grandpa, who was also a runner, is losing his memory. There are days he can't remember
things--important things--there are days he can't recognize himself in photographs. He has days where he has no memories of
his childhood. Annie's mom is pregnant. Many poems deal with her anxiety about having a new baby sister or brother--she's
excited most of the time--but sometimes she's a little scared too. The new baby will share her room. She's worried about the
changes going on in her life--but she's not deeply troubled or depressed. She uses her art--she has a school assignment where
she has to draw the same apple one hundred days in a row--and her running to relax and really get a sense of who she is and
where she wants to go. She also becomes much closer to her grandfather--he's living with the family now--she starts sketching
him as well. The reader really gets the sense that through this art assignment--Annie has become more observant and more thoughtful
of the world around her. It's a very enjoyable read. The characters, particularly Annie, Max, and Grandpa Joe, are well developed.
I recommend this novel.