Center for Children’s Literature

Children’s Book Committee

The Children’s Book Committee was founded more than 100 years ago to help parents, teachers, and librarians choose the books that children will find captivating and transforming. Every year it produces comprehensive annotated book lists for children aged infant through 16.

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The Committee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the best 600 books, both fiction and nonfiction, which it lists with annotations according to age and category.
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A Heart in the Body of the World

Children's Book Committee April Pick

A Heart In A Body In The World
Author: Deb Caletti

Annabell, 17, embarks on a cross-country run from Seattle to Washington DC in an attempt to outrun the pain from a terrible tragedy. Colorful illustrations and photos.

A Heart In A Body In The World, by Deb Caletti, chronicles Annabelle Agnelli’s cross-country run from Seattle to Washington DC after she experiences a terrible tragedy. The story begins with a compelling narrative; simple yet deliberate, Caletti creates a text which one cannot relinquish. There are many words to describe this book; heart-wrenching; authentic; touching; but the one that I believe fits most is beautiful. The writing is beautiful, the facts regarding the subject of the book, the human heart, at the beginning of each chapter are beautiful. Yet what makes this book so truly incredible are the characters. In three hundred and fifty-five pages, Caletti creates an indelible personality. Annabelle is not merely relatable; she is a friend, she is a human being. I have never before so clearly understood a person and their motivations; never have I known a character so well.

Caletti’s novel is strikingly relevant in a country that is grappling with massacres such as Parkland and Columbine; it provides a narrative that is not one of the activist, it is one of an individual who has found herself in the spotlight, yet only wishes to mourn. Near the end of the book, when giving a speech on what had happened, protagonist Annabelle says of the nation, “It has not shown me that it will protect me, from males more powerful than me, from people who hate and intend to do harm. It has shown me that I am less than, that I am not worth being protected. It has shown recklessness with my well-being.”

A Heart In A Body In The World is a beautiful reflection on the world today, in a world that stands by during tragedies, but also a world with people like Annabelle Agnelli, like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who use their voices because, as Caletti writes, one’s voice is “the only thing you have sometimes when someone or something is larger and more powerful than you.”

Jane, 14 years old, Manhattan, NY.

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