Title: Good-bye Baby Max | Author: Diane Cantrell | Illustrator: Heather Castles | Publication Date: February, 2008 | Publisher: Bridgeway Books | Number of pages: 32 | Recommended age: 4+ | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Mrs. B’s class excitedly awaits the birth of three baby chicks. When Max is unable to crack open his shell, the children’s loving teacher assists them in expressing their feelings of loss and planning a special good-bye.
My Thoughts: Good-bye, Baby Max is a sweet picture book tackling a sensitive topic: grieving over the loss of a pet. Mrs. B’s class tends to three chicken eggs which they amusingly name Dora, Spiderman, and Max. The big day finally arrives when two of the eggs hatch; but, the third, Max, clearly has difficulty breaking out of his shell. Baby Max does not survive, leaving the children saddened by his passing. Mrs. B. is then challenged to help the children deal with their grief.
The children are encouraged to express their emotions and thoughts by planning and participating in a funeral for Baby Max and by creating special mementos to remember him by. As the surviving chicks, Dora and Spiderman, cheep in the background, the class share their creations and learn that life, does indeed go on.
I read Good-bye Baby Max to my children and we were all left teary-eyed. Ok, well two of us were teary-eyed and one of us had tears streaming down our cheeks. Something about this book moved all three of us and the discussion that ensued was very eye-opening. Most children have next to no life experience dealing with death. At first, I questioned how quickly a child could become attached to a chick that never was born; but, after I saw how my children reacted, I believe it was a better option to feature a relationship with relatively low attachment. I think if the animal that died in the book was a family pet, it would have been much too distressing. My children have two cats and the mere thought of losing them devastates them.
More importantly, the book presents a platform for discussing death and grieving in general. In the story, the children are encouraged to express their emotions and are introduced to basic rites surrounding death. For example, the children plan a funeral for the baby chick. The teacher was able to explain how to plan for a funeral and also the reasons why we have funerals. This was done very well and with sensitivity. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the illustrations were also very well done, capturing the rollercoaster of emotions the children experience from the exhilaration of witnessing the hatching of the chicks, to the sorrow when Max dies, and finally to the contentment that results from the understanding that life does go on.
My Bottom Line: Good-bye, Baby Max is a moving picture book about a classroom of children who experience the loss of a classroom pet, a baby chicken. Through the use of rhyming text and beautiful illustrations, the children are guided by their teacher on how to express and manage their grief. My children and I really enjoyed reading and discussing the book and we all highly recommend it to children aged 4 years and older, especially those who have experienced the loss of a pet.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. *
* Diane Cantrell Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $100 Amazon Gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: January 20th to February 19th, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Diane Cantrell and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.