Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New Release Spotlight: Good-bye, Baby Max

Good-bye, Baby Max by Diane Cantrell
Illustrated by Heather Castles

In Good-bye, Baby Max, Diane Cantrell expertly weaves her experience as a kindergarten teacher and counselor into an endearing story that deals with death and loss in a classroom setting. When Max the baby chick fails to thrive and later dies, the young class comes face to face with death in a way that is vividly realized by Heather Castles’s moving illustrations.

That’s not to say there aren’t some bumpy parts on this ride. At times, Cantrell’s rhyming four-line stanzas feel a bit contrived and choppy and get in the way of the real story here. Characters occasionally get muddled as well (in one instance, the same child takes her turn at Show and Tell two weeks in a row, which would not happen in a kindergarten classroom without a riot taking place). Castles’s illustrations, on the other hand, are so brilliant in both color and form that they transcend these small hiccups in the text, allowing the book to fully evolve as the creation it was meant to be. Rendered in colored pencil, the illustrations are truly beautifully accomplished.

All in all, Good-bye, Baby Max is an excellent read for children, whether or not they may be struggling with death or loss. With subject matter that is rich and compelling, it is obvious Cantrell has had experience with these important issues; the love and passion she has for her work really comes through in the book. Good-bye, Baby Max is definitely one to put on the shelf for the little person in your life.

Review by Andrea Deeken, Indigo Editing, LLC

Publisher: Bridgeway Books
Pub date: February 2008
Hardcover: $16.95 US

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