Good-Bye, Baby Max | Book Review by Carole McDonnell

By heather at 5:16 pm on Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book review of Good-Bye, Baby Max by Carole McDonnell (

“Diane Cantrell, a former kindergarten teacher and a grief facilitator with degrees in education and counseling, has put much of her knowledge about grief into a sweetly illustrated book on dealing with grief.

The story begins in a season all kindergarteners are aware of. Spring. Children in Mrs Bís class are learning about growth and beginnings by planting seeds and hatching eggs. But then the unexpected happens and an emergency occurs. Baby Max, one of the hatchlings the children have been waiting to hatch, seems to be having trouble being born. Although his brother and sister, Dora and Spiderman, are as healthy as can beÖhis attempts to break through his shell are feeble. There is a rush to the veterinary hospital but unfortunately Mrs B returns the next day with the bad news: Baby Max did not survive. (Okay, some astute child might ask why Mrs B didnít help Max out of the shell, but that is not likely to happen.)

Understandably, the children are upset. Their hearts were set on Max and although they hadnít really seen him, they are grieving at the unexpected loss. Mrs B then arranges a grief ceremony which the children themselves create. Max is memorialized, buried, and with the help of Dora and Spiderman the children learn that life is still beautiful and life goes on.

First thing Iíll say is that this book is very multicultural. Children of all races appear in these wonderfully-illustrated pages. The second thing is that fortunately the trauma surrounding Maxís death comes fairly quickly. There isnít a lingering buildup or a lingering drawn-out dying scene. The memorial also comes and goes fairly quickly. In fact, the book seems quite short Ėabout twelve or so pages.

The rhyme is unobtrusive, unremarkable, and unnoticeable for adult standards. But kids will love it. And this is a book for kids. The words are common ones kids hear everydayÖ.so kindergarteners will not struggle with terms and some first and second graders might be able to read it.

The drawings seem to be pastel crayons. I checked the information sheet to see what kind of media was used but am not quite sure. The emotion in the faces engages the reader and any child will easily understand it. Even the ladybugs weep for little Max.

The story is transferable to real life without being overly pushy and terrifying to children. Teachers could definitely use this book to discuss the arc of life and death should any of their students suffer a sudden emotional loss. I highly recommended this book for 3 to 7 year olds and for children in special education classes.”

Filed under: childrens books, reviews, Good-bye Baby Max

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