Good-Bye, Baby Max | Book Review

By heather at 5:06 pm on Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Review by Lillian Brummet
Rating 4 out of 5 stars

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 wrote the hardcover book. The author, Diane Cantrell, states that the book was written to stimulate discussion on a topic that is often difficult to broach.

The illustrations are filled with gold, red, green and blue in the art 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 be fun to inspire your children find them. Heather Castles has been enjoying 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 eggs was not allowing the little chick to come out of the 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 the grieving process. Love for their unborn friend inspired a comforting funeral underneath a large oak tree. Each child is given projects to aide with the healing process and soon they begin to find joy in the two chirping, squirming delicate yellow chicks.

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

Published by Bridgeway books (US), however environmentalists might be concerned that it was printed and bound in China, 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.

Lillian Brummet: co-author of the books Trash Talk and Purple Snowflake Marketing, author of Towards Understanding; host of the Conscious Discussions radio show (

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Goodbye, Baby Max | Book Review

By heather at 4:03 pm on Monday, March 3, 2008

I stumbled across another review of my book, “Good-bye, Baby Max” over at by Janet Pope :

Mrs. B’s kindergarten class anxiously awaited the arrival of three baby chicks, which they have already named. But Max, the last one to hatch, doesn’t make it into the world. The next morning, Mrs. B has to break the sad news to the class. The rest of the story, told in rhyming text, shows how the children and the teacher handle their grief. “Silence falls over the room. Liz and Rob begin to cry. ‘Don’t worry,’ says Mrs. B. ‘We’ll find a way to say good-bye.’”

This simple and tender story takes a look at an occurrence that most every child, unfortunately experiences at least once during their childhood - the death of a class pet or a pet of their own. The colorful illustrations by Heather Castles are soft and muted, adding to the seriousness of the subject. The expressions on the faces of the multi-cultural children are precious and touching.

This a a great book for any young child experiencing a loss, especially appropriate for ages 4 through 8. This is a difficult subject to approach with a young child and this book would ease that conversation.”

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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 B’s 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 be…his 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 didn’t 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 hadn’t 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 I’ll 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 Max’s death comes fairly quickly. There isn’t 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 –about 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 everyday….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.”

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