top of page

The Picture Book Buzz

Your One and Only Heart - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Rajani LaRocca has released another amazing book; one that comes from your career as a doctor. While this beautiful poetic celebration of the heart is accessible and relatable for early elementary students, it's wealth of information makes it an appealing resource for all ages.

Book Cover - with kids and hearts surrounding the title.

Your One and Only Heart

Author: Rajani LaRocca

Illustrator: Lauren Paige Conrad

Publisher: Dial Books

Ages: 5-8



Human heart, poetry, and science.


A lyrical introduction to the many wonders of the human heart, from award-winning author and practicing doctor, Dr. Rajani LaRocca

In this stunning non-fiction picture book, poetry and science come together with playful cut-paper illustrations to create a moving ode to the human heart and all that it does. Complete with illustrative diagrams and copious backmatter, this is a one-of-a-kind non-fiction picture book that gently guides readers through the various systems which make up our most vital organ.

Opening Lines:

Your heart is SINGULAR.

When you are born

and take your first breath,

your one and only heart is already beating.

It will beat every second

of every minute

of every hour

of every day

of your whole life.

What I LOVED about this book:

This is such a fascinating way to explore and explain how and why a heart works. Constructed of two complementary free verse poems, ingeniously distinguished from the other poem pairs through the rainbow colors of ROYGBPV, it combines a straightforward lyrical description of the heart and it's processes with images that relate to a child's life.

Internal spread - on left stethescope rests on a baby next to a wall of photos showing child's growth from girl to Grany. On right is a digram of circulatory sytem and kids listening to a spotrs team captain.

Text © Rajani LaRocca, 2023. Image © Lauren Paige Conrad, 2023.

The opening two spreads set the format - "Your heart is SINGULAR/ Your heart is COOPERATIVE." For the first four sets of poems, the initial illustrations focus on photos and kids painting, tumbling, and playing with toys. And the second poem provides detailed scientific information and the illustrations offer schematics on the cardiovascular, pumping, relaxing, and shifting rhythms of our hearts.

I love the numerous analogies throughout the book. For instance, to explain the heart's lead role in the cardiovascular system, Rajani LaRocca likens the heart to a team captain - "The captain of Team Cardiovascular....The heart is the heart of this team." The two part illustration beautifully helps translate the included scientific information into a child's ordinary experience. providing both a wonderful diagram of the circulatory system and a kid's sports team in a strategy meeting. I am so amazed that Lauren Paige Conrad created all of these detailed and complex illustrations with colorful, textured cut-paper.

On the fifth pairing, the format shifts and the scientific information comes first - "Your Heart is ELECTRIC" / "Your Heart is MUSCULAR."

Internal spread - left side a boy knocks over dominoes and a digram shows the electrical impulses of the heart. On right tennis racket, wheelchair basketball player and three bicycles  racing.

Text © Rajani LaRocca, 2023. Image © Lauren Paige Conrad, 2023.

After explaining the electrical impulses that trigger the heart and how it is a muscle like any other in the body that requires exercise, the book examines how the heart is HIDDEN within the body, yet NOTICEABLE (if you know where & how to look) and both SELFISH and SELFLESS (when everything rests, "it toils away.") The end of this last pair of poems beautifully wraps back to the opening. Creating a slightly tweaked, echoing refrain with the opening poem:

working away

every second

of every minute

of every hour

of every day

of your whole life.

And a solo poem ends . . . on a strikingly honest and thought provoking note. The ending spread is a wonderfully colorful celebration of our important, special heart and ourselves. In the back matter, each highlighted word in the poem - such as singular, electric, or selfish - has it's own color-coded box with additional scientific information. There are also wonderful diagrams of the outer and inner heart. This is a superb book, full of eye-catching amazing illustrations, perfect for introducing the role, processes, and importance of our hearts as well as for sparking curiosity and wonder at this unique part of ourselves.


 Collection of heart crafts.
Two models of a working heart. One with one bottle and two straws  and one with 3 bottles and four straws.

- try some fun, creative ways to make a heart or try making a working heart model (one container or three containers).

- using cut paper, make an image of your favorite aspect of your heart described in one of the poems.

- write your own poem about your heart.

If you missed the interview with Rajani LaRocca on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

Follow Me

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • 1473394675_goodreads
  • Pinterest



bottom of page