Heartbeat – Doe Boyle, illustrations by Daniel Long

Heartbeat – Doe Boyle, illustrations by Daniel Long, Albert Whitman & Company, 9780807531907, 2020 

Format: ARC (Hardcover available September, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 What did you like about the book? I love the inspiration for this story–the author was sitting on her back porch when she admired a hummingbird hovering over a blossom. Her son-in-law (a biologist)  informed her of some data he recently learned about the heartbeat of a hummingbird — and so the seed for this book was planted. This book looks at several different animals and their unique heartbeats along with other interesting features. The book begins with the animal believed to have the most heartbeats per minute and that is the pygmy shrew at 1,500 times per minute! The book is designed so that, as it  progresses, the beats per minute decrease–hummingbird at 1,000, bat at 700, all the way down to a frog at four beats per minute and no heartbeat while it is resting in winter! Each animal is given a two-page spread that initially focuses on their interesting heartbeat or even cardiovascular system (the octopus actually has three hearts). There is a brief paragraph of some general information, written in an almost poetic form with lots of fun words such as “lub dub”, “flit flit”, and “flick dash”. This book is also loaded with some amazing animal facts–a giraffe lowers its head to get blood to its brain to prevent fainting, the heartbeat of a snake doubles if it is catching or eating prey, and a group of gorillas is called a “troop”. 

The illustrations provided by Daniel Long really make this book “pop”. Because we are dealing with animals in different environments, both on land and in the water, there are many opportunities to create beautiful landscapes. There are bright pink flowers with the hummingbirds, lush green grass with the meadow mouse, dark blue sea of the octopus and the whale, and golden deserts with the camel.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children over the age of four. Even though the book centers around the heartbeats of different animals, this is definitely a book for a child who loves animals because it is filled with so many amazing animal facts.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, anyone who works with children over the age of four years old. I would highly recommend this book for an elementary school classroom.

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction or Nonfiction Picture Books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, absolutely amazing!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: June 20, 2020

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