Book Reveiw 7-13
Monday, July 21, 2008

By Denise Turney
If I told you that a child wrote the first of his four volumes of poetry when he was three years old, you might not believe me, but that’s just what Mattie J. T. Stephanek did. 

His work caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Carter, Jerry Lewis and others. 

Mattie has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America and Larry King.  He was awarded the Children’s Hope Medal of Honor, the Verizon Courage Award, and the Humanitarian Award from the Pediatric Nursing Society of America.  Muscular dystrophy has been a physical challenge for Mattie. 

Through his challenges, as is noted in his writing, he has learned the value of finding something to celebrate about life each day.

I could hardly believe that a person so young wrote the poems in this book.  The writing is resilient, effective, emotionally taut, well balanced and evenly paced.  Broken into five parts, the book speaks about nature, thoughts and dreams, special days, life and everyday heroes.

The opening poem aptly titled, “How Poetry Grow”, begins:  “Be aware, be noticing, be inspired. . .by something simple, by something unusual, by something that touches your mind or your spirit or your life.  Let the feeling move your heart.”  Another poem titled Word Poetry V reads:  Tell her why secret bouquets build only dry glass blossoms.  Let summer grow full, and teach with windy lace, pronouncing songs sounding of page after book of life.”

Drawings interspersed throughout the pages bring the book further to life.  They were the one sign that reminded me of the touch of a child, the drawings and the poems about having fun that Mattie included in the collection.  That said, the writing does not need the drawings as the writing is aptly potent to stand on its own. 

Another poem in Celebrate Through Heartsongs titled “Shades of Life” reads, “The color of sky is blues and grays.  The color of earth is greens and browns.  The color of hope is rainbows and purple.  And the color of peace is people, together.”

Color, laughter, struggle, uniqueness and the celebration of life – that’s what Celebrate Through Heartsongs is about in a way that will move readers in ways they may not yet have been moved before.      

Visit Denise online at  Read excerpts from Denise’s two new books online FREE by e-mailing with “Request New Free Excerpts” in the subject line.


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