Hope Through Heartsongs

Hope Through Heartsongs

4.1 6
by Mattie J.T. Stepanek

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The award-winning bestselling poetry of 11-year-old Mattie Stepanek has touched the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. From Heartsongs, to Vietnam War Memorial, to Prayer for a Journey, Mattie has written movingly and courageously about life and death, love and loss, faith and hope, innocence and joy. His struggle with a rare form of


The award-winning bestselling poetry of 11-year-old Mattie Stepanek has touched the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. From Heartsongs, to Vietnam War Memorial, to Prayer for a Journey, Mattie has written movingly and courageously about life and death, love and loss, faith and hope, innocence and joy. His struggle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy has given him wisdom and insight, and his life, work, and message have been recognized by Oprah, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, ABC TV's Good Morning America, People, NBC TV's the Today show, and C- PAN's BookTV.

Editorial Reviews

Jimmy Carter
Mattie will inspire readers of all ages with thoughts and images that bring both tears and expanded hearts.
Mattie J. T. Stepanek, the thirteen-year-old author of his third volume of poetry, finds solace and hope in heartsongs, his ideation of "why we are here and why we keep going." Suffering from muscular dystrophy, he began writing as a toddler as a way to deal with the tragedies in his life. His poetry, which has been lauded on ABC, C-SPAN, Oprah, and the New York Times best-seller list, is poignant and thoughtful but ultimately the poetry of a teenager. There are some nice images in this most current volume. In "It Happened Anyway," a poem cataloging his feelings of powerlessness surrounding the death of a sibling, Mattie writes, "We wish we could have prevented it, / And stopped his death, and saved him from / Never needing birthday candles...", deftly illustrating the finality of death. His much-praised kernels of wisdom and observation, a result of inordinate pain and turmoil in his life, are the main draw, and they will be heartwarming to some, clichéd to others. The strength in this book lies in the fact that many teens love stories of real people overcoming tragedies and will relate to the raw emotions and honesty of Mattie's poetry. Public libraries will want at least one volume by the unique teen, whose goal is to spread peace and hope. Readers who slurp up the Chicken Soup books, revel in the words of Dave Pelzer, and relate to the philosophies of Gary Zukav will relish this new volume of heartsongs. Index. Illus. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Hyperion/Disney, 62p,
— Blayne Tuttle Borden
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Teens will be touched by the poetic observations of this preteen author. Both he and the words he chooses are exceptional in many ways. Stepanek has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, but his writing and positive outlook are more powerful than his physically debilitating disease. Readers are introduced to his views about illness, imagery, relationships, peace, prayer, fear, and perseverance. All are filled with hope, reflecting his philosophy to "remember to play after every storm." A selection written on and about September 11, 2001, is included. A few illustrations are added to the mix of poems, which are dated by month and year.-Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Heartsongs Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Hope through Heartsongs

By Mattie J.T. Stepanek


Copyright © 2002 Mattie J.T. Stepanek
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7868-6944-5

Chapter One


Choice Lesson

Growth brings change.
Unpredictable change,
Which can bring
Hesitancy to optimism.
It is essential that we cope
With the realities of the past
And the uncertainties of the future
With a pure and chosen hope.
Not a blind faith,
But a strengthened choice.
Then, we can have the
Fortitude and wisdom necessary
To integrate life's many lessons
That collect beyond points in time.
Growing like this will help
Build a good future,
For individuals,
For communities,
And for the world.

February 2000


When I was a little
Teeny-tiny baby
And I came out of
My mommy's womb,
I cried.
That's what most babies
Do when they are born.
Do you know why
I cried when I was born?
I cried for the same
Reason that most babies
Cry when they are born.
I cried because I was so happy.
I cried because I got to come
And live in this family.
I cried because God was
So good to let me have
The best mommy in the world.
And that is why most
Babies cry when they are born ...
They are happy birth-tears
Because we are so happy
To be in the best families.

June 1996

About Normal

Right now,
I don't know what Normal is
That's because Normal has been changing
So much,
So often,
For a long while of lately.
I'd like Normal to be
Good health ...
Emotional health,
Medical health,
Spiritual health.
I'd like Normal to be
Like that.
I'd like Normal to stay,
Like that.
For now though,
I know that Normal won't be normal
For a little while ...
But somehow,
Even if things are not Normal,
They'll be okay.
That's because I believe
In the great scheme of things,
And Life.

May 2001

It Happened Anyway

When Jamie died,
And I didn't even understand
The eternity of my sadness,
I wished I could have prevented it.
But then, I remember,
It happened anyway.
When I rest in my bed,
And dream about how I could have
Lived and played with my brother,
I wish I could have stopped his death.
But then, I remember,
It happened anyway.
When I look at pictures,
And imagine what he would be like
Now a dozen years old,
I wish I could have saved him from agelessness.
But then, I remember,
It happened anyway.
When I hug our mommy,
And we think of why, and how, and
When he was with us and left us,
We wish we could have prevented it,
And stopped his death, and saved him from
Never needing breath for birthday candles ...
But then, we remember, though we don't understand,
It happened anyway.

November 2001

Dear God,

I've been having these dreams,
That make me think that it is real,
And that it will really happen.
Like about a monster taking me away from
Home without anything to take with me and
I never see my mother again.
Dear God,
Please help me have some special medicine
That will get rid of all these nightmares
About going away, and leaving, and dying.
Dear God,
I will thank You for the special medicine,
Even if it's invisible medicine that is
Inside of all the healthy food I eat everyday,
Or inside of all the meditation I do everyday.
Dear God,
I send You big hugs and big kisses, and
You will send me the invisible medicine
To cure this scariness and
To get over these feelings and nightmares.
Please put it into all of the food that I eat
So they won't come ever again,
Even while I am still getting better.
I need to get rid of this tiredness in my heart.

August 1996

Land of Loneliness

I feel like I have
Broken through
The wall into the
Land of Loneliness.
I cry in my mind, and
I cry in my heart, but
I never cry in my eyes.
I don't want anyone
To know how
Sad and how
Lonely and how
Different I feel.
I know that I don't
Always feel this way,
But I feel this way now.
I don't like feeling this
Way now, or any-ever.

April 1996

Shared Tears

I get sad,
And then
I have tears
On my face.
They roll
Out of my eyes,
Down onto my cheeks,
And off of my chin.
My mommy
Takes one of my tears
On her finger,
And kisses it,
And puts it
Onto her face.
My mommy loves me.
When I am
Hurt or very sad,
My mommy is
Hurt or very sad, too.

October 1993


I really miss
Having a brother.
I miss my
Two brothers and my sister,
And I don't
Why they died.
It's so sad
To not have
A brother, and
Another brother, and
A sister
When I should have them.
And I know that
Will make me
Happy again.
But, right now,
I don't know what, and
I don't know when.

January 1995

Little Boy Blue

I am very, very, very sad.
And I don't know why.
But I know I am
Alone with my tears.
I am not angry,
But I am so sad.
I miss Jamie.
I want him to come back,
So I can touch him again.
My mommy and my Mr. Bunny
Touch my tears.
They hold me and rock me,
And love my tears away,
Out of my eyes,
And off of my cheeks.
I am still sad then,
And I still miss Jamie,
But sometimes,
I am a lithe bit happier.

November 1993

At Mommy's Work

Today I went to my mommy's work with her.
I played with my work-friends,
Emily and Andrew.
Their mommies work, too.
We ate in a restaurant,
And I let my lunch balloon
Go up to the sky
And into Heaven for my brother, Jamie.
I ran and ran with my work-friends,
And then my heart hurt
Next to my belly-button
And I asked Mommy
To put on my oxygen-wind.
I was sad and tired and hurt.
But then the little boy work-friend
Covered his head with rubberbands.
He covered his ears and his nose, too,
He covered the floor and even the hall.
It was so silly of him.
And I laughed and laughed and laughed.
I was not sad anymore.
Then his mommy told him to clean up,
And he was not silly anymore,
So I did not laugh anymore.
But in the car going home,
I fell asleep,
And when I woke up,
I remembered my silly work-friend,
And I laughed and laughed
And laughed again.

December 1993


My life
Is halfway down
An abyss.
A deep
Immeasurable space.
A gulf.
A cavity.
A vast chasm.
My life
Is not how
I planned it to be.
Is not how
I want it to be.
Is not how
I pray for it
To be.
In the darkness
Of this pit,
I see a small
Light of hope.

Is it possible for me
To climb to such heights?
To rebuild the bridges?
To find my salvation?
The song
In my heart
Is so quiet.
Is so dark.
Is so fearful.
I dare not stay in
This abyss.
Though deep
And vast,
I am only halfway
Thus, I am
Halfway up?
Let such words
Fall onto my heart,
And raise me from this depth.

January 2001

Bravery Prayer

Dear God,
Help us to always be able
To use the feelings of
Hope and fear, together,
In one great force ...
Bravery is extremely
Necessary in life.
If we are able
To have bravery,
We will be able
To achieve
Many goals in life.

December 1999

Life: That's Amazing!

When it is nighttime,
I get my nebulizer and All my medicines,
I go to the bathroom and brush my teeth,
I put on my pajamas and heart monitor,
And untangle my oxygen-mustache
So I get my special breathing wind.
When I am in my bed,
My mommy will read me a book,
And say my prayers with me.
She will kiss me and hug me and tuck me in,
And then turn on my Mommy-Songs tape.
When I close my eyes,
I go to sleep and dream and dream,
Or I go to sleep and do not dream.
When it is morning,
I wake up.
I am alive, and
I am breathing, and
I am a real boy.
That's Amazing!

October 1993

Morning Alarm

When I wake up
In the morning
After a night
When I have
A lot of alarms
For not breathing and
For low heart rate,
I forget so many things.
I cannot concentrate.
I am impatient.
And even though
It all gets better as
The day goes on,
I feel like I have
Young person's
Al Simer's disease.

April 2000

Beyond the Pain

I am looking out of the window.
I see so many beautiful things.
I see trucks and cars,
And flowers and plants,
And people.
I like looking out of the window.
People are such beautiful things.

September 1993

Chapter Two

Each Other

Fair Feelings

Everyone has feelings-
Love, fear, sadness,
Happiness, confusion, hope ...
Feelings depend on one's
Personal situation at a given time.
We should feel free and
Encouraged to express feelings,
But never in a way
That hurts the feelings of others.
Even if a person does not think
It is a big deal to say something
That could upset another person,
It could be a very crushing
Experience to that person.
It could affect the rest
Of his or her life, and
Possibly, even the lives of others
Subsequently touched by that person.
Attitudes are contagious.

March 2000

About Feelings

Some things hurt my feelings.
Like when other people tease me.
I have been teased by kids
About my oxygen, and
About not being able to keep up.
I have been teased by kids
For not teasing other kids,
And for setting a moral example.
I have been teased by someone
For not keeping scary secrets, and
For being afraid of threatening things.
I have even been teased by someone
About having a disability.
When things have hurt my feelings,
Usually I try to talk
To the person who has hurt me.
Sometimes, I have to talk
To a person I trust instead.
It is important for people to be
Honest when expressing themselves.
But, it is also important to be
Always thoughtful and considerate
In expressing feelings to others,
So that more feelings are not hurt.

March 2000

On Saying "Good-bye"

There are too many
Good-byes in my life.
Just too many,
Too many,
Too many good-byes.
Things were so sad,
And then,
Things were so bad,
And now,
Things are so much better,
But, I have to say
And even though there
Will be another "hello,"
I don't want to see the
Friends and times of this
Best-of-all-summers go.
And if only my friends
Could be with me a
Little longer,
Just one more week-
I'd have seven more
Whole days
Before I'd have to cry.

July 1998

Lunch Hour

This was really not a very good day.
I played with my friend, Lissa,
And we began to argue
And hit at each other.
At first, I thought it felt good
That's what Lissa does with her
When they argue, they hit at each
So when I hit at Lissa,
I thought maybe it would be
Just like if my sister, Katie,
Was still alive and we were
But it didn't really feel good.
And when I told Mommy about it,
She was disappointed that I hit.
She said we touch gently in our
She said if Katie was alive,
We would probably argue,
But hitting would not be okay.

Mommy told me to sit and think
About how to disagree, but not
Then I knew it was not a very
good day.
I tried to think about why I hit
I don't want to be mean.
I don't always have to get my way.
I don't think I am a bad boy.
So I think that perhaps I hit Lissa
Because God went out to lunch,
And he could not come into my
And remind me to be peaceful
when I was angry.
I sure hope God doesn't go out

January 1996

Examination of Faith (II)

Dear God,
When Mommy told me that
The little baby growing in Margie
Died last night,
I was surprised and angry.
I prayed to You, God.
I prayed every night and
I prayed every day and
We all prayed that this
Sweet little baby would live.
When Mommy told me that
The baby died, I said,
"Then our prayers didn't work!
God didn't listen! God didn't
Make a miracle for the baby!"
Mommy said that You
Always listen to our prayers,
But sometimes Your answer
Is not what we were wishing for,

And "prayers" are not "wishes."
She said that maybe letting
The baby come into Heaven
As such a tiny angel was a
There are miracles every single day
Except we don't always notice them,
Because we were hoping or
wanting for
Something different than what
we got.
So God,
Thank You for all the miracles
You give to us each day,
And thank You for listening
To all of our prayers.
And even though I am sad about
Margie's baby, I am not angry
with You.

March 1996


One of my greatest fears is "It."
I cannot touch It, but I can feel It,
And I can sense It with me.
It does not have a smell or taste,
But I can hear It in my trepidating
It has been bothering me
Since my home was broken
Into many times,
And I believe that the root
Of my fears are related
To great fears of a memory.
My fear of It causes me
To touch things again
And again and again
With certain parts of my hands,
Or to check door locks
And light switches again
And again and again.


Excerpted from Hope through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek Copyright © 2002 by Mattie J.T. Stepanek. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Matthew J. T. Stepanek, best known as "Mattie," has been writing poetry and short stories since age three. His first three books of poetry are titled Heartsongs, Journey Through Heartsongs, and Hope Through Heartsongs. Mattie is a frequent public speaker who has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, and Larry King and has had his poetry published in newspapers and magazines nationwide. In 2002, Mattie was awarded the Children's Hope Medal of Honor, the Verizon Courage Award, and the Humanitarian Award from the Pediatric Nursing Society of America. Mattie serves as the Maryland State Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and was the National Goodwill Ambassador in 2002. He lives in Maryland with his mother, Jeni, where he is homeschooled.

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Hope Through Heartsongs 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was classic poetry from a young and talented mind. I enjoyed this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actually have an audiobook cassette and enjoy listening to the Heartfelt messages Mattie conveys to our World. Mr. Stepanek is gifted and I recommend this literary work for any poetry buff
Guest More than 1 year ago
i highly recommend
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. I actually prayed for Mattie when he asked everyone to do so on the Oprah show. I believe God and his holy spirit are with this young man. To have lived through all the surgeries and the taking of different medications, truly shows us the faith can cure all ailments of the spirit. Mattie keep believing!!! 'To Cry When No One Hears' is another book of poetry I recommend. Recommended for the woman who never had her say in life or love. This can be found at (1st Books.com).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was great. I also read 'Cascade' by Dennis Klett and found it to be wonderful. Very real, emotional poetry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This author's wisdom is far beyond his years. What a gifted soul. Thank you, Mattie, for sharing your poetry with us. I wish you longevity and great happiness, and I look forward to reading more 'heartsongs' in the years to come. I also recommend a book of wisdom by another young man who is wise beyond his years - 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life' by Taro Gold. Both Mattie and Taro are humble young sages with the faces of boys but the hearts of philosophers.