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*Good-bye, Baby Max* by Diane Cantrell, illustrated by Heather Castles
Good-bye, Baby Max
by Diane Cantrell, illustrated by Heather Castles
Grades 1-2 32 pages Bridgeway Books February 2008 Hardcover    

Good-bye, Baby Max is a wonderful children’s book for those who are coping with the end of life. A former kindergarten teacher who currently works as a professional counselor and life coach in Texas, author Diane Cantrell states that the book was written to stimulate discussion on a topic that is often difficult to broach.

The illustrations in rich tones of gold, red, green and blue are filled with activity, creations on the walls by the class and teacher’s lessons displayed here and there. The nature scenes are lovely and occasionally spotted with cute ladybugs, which might to inspire children to hunt for them. Artist Heather Castles has enjoyed a career in children’s book illustrations for some time and has a passion for nature.

A class of about 14 children is learning about spring and growing seeds; their teacher brings them three wriggling chicken eggs that are just about ready to hatch baby chicks. The teacher wants them to learn about caring for the delicate birds and to experience the cycle of life as a biology lesson. Unfortunately, one of the chicks cannot break out of its shell. The children return to class the next morning and learn that the little chick, Max, has died. Tears flow, and the teacher helps the children deal with their grief. Love for their unborn friend inspires a comforting funeral underneath a large oak tree. Each child is given projects to aid with the healing process, and soon they begin to find joy in the remaining two chirping, squirming, delicate yellow chicks.

Children will enjoy the opening and closing pages filled with tiny yellow chicks. The hardcover is illustrated and protected with a slipcover with the identical illustration as the cover.

Published by Bridgeway Books (a U.S. company), the book's being printed and bound in China might concern environmentalists due to the shipping involved. Unfortunately, I could find no information in the book or on the publisher’s site regarding environmentally sound printing options that were chosen, such as using chlorine or acid-free paper. Because the environment is a strong passion of mine, I feel I have to dock the book by a star. Otherwise, I truly enjoyed this book.

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  Lillian Brummet/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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