I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of “The Cutest Face” by Toronto illustrator & Author, Rebecca Zak. I grew up in the Toronto area, and the best complement I can give this book is that it truly captures the “diversity & equity” of the classroom experience I experienced then, and students still enjoy now.
Rebecca’s illustrations are beautifully done, her command of realism with oil paints is really great… and she captures that “class photo” feel with little touches like the curtain in the background, the children’s poses, and variety of expressions.
The story itself is sweet, feels like a book of complements to each of the children in Rebecca’s class, appreciating them for who they are as individuals. The icing on the cake is how she pulls it together at the end, with “how cute everyone looks altogether” in their class photo.
The book itself has a lovely feel to it, is hardcover and the paper has a lovely feel to it. It is printed on paper “From Well Managed Forests” approved by the FSC. The book was designed by Dave Zak.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to share in the enjoyment of diversity with their children.
“The book is colorfully illustrated and the story is simple but delightful. Riley, a small girl of about 5 years loses her first tooth. When she shares that news with her grandma, the pups in the house get worried and start searching for the lost tooth. A tooth fairy appears and assures them that it is a natural process and Riley will in fact get a regular, permanent tooth in its place.
….The book is well written and the illustrations are beautiful. The book will definitely appeal to all children (including children at heart like this reviewer) and their parents / grandparents / elder siblings and other care givers. Strongly recommended as an educational gift.”
Riley’s Lost Tooth is due to be launched in just a couple weeks!
I just read an interesting article by Angie Wagner over at AOL Australia Lifestyle on Talking to Kids About Death. Wagner has interviewed Diane Cantrell, author of our book “Good-bye, Baby Max,” which is about a kindergarten classroom who deals with the loss of their classroom pet. Diane provides a lovely honest perspective on talking about death with little kids, offering the advice to not be afraid of discussing it with your children.
My favourite children’s book review podcast, Just One More Book, is coming up to it’s 400th episode this July… and to celebrate the love of reading they’ve invited children’s book illustrators to come up with a logo for their website. Mark & Andrea are a lovely couple whose love of reading with their children is truly apparant through their podcasts… they’ve received some great submissions already, including this awesome one by one of my favourite illustrators/writers, Oliver Jeffers… as well as artwork by some very tallented kiddies! Deadline for entries is June 15th, 2008… Happy drawing!
“The loss of a family pet can be a traumatic time for everyone, but the grief can be especially difficult for children. Death is a tough topic for many parents to discuss with their kids, but it’s an important conversation to have. Often, the death of a family pet is a child’s first real experience with loss, and it lends parents an opportunity to emerge as role models for their children to prepare them for life’s unexpected turns.
Child development specialist and licensed counselor Diane Cantrell says no matter how young they are, children need to know that the grieving process is normal. Many times, kids don’t have the language or ability to conceptualize the feelings that they are going through, and they look to their parents for guidance.
Cantrell recently authored a children’s picture book, “Goodbye, Baby Max” (Bridgeway Books, February 2008) as a tool for parents to discuss loss and death with young kids. Along with original illustrations, “Goodbye, Baby Max” tells the story of a kindergarten class that loses their classroom pet, a baby chick named Max who never hatched from his shell. With the help of their teacher, Mrs. B, the students learn to express their feelings and plan a special goodbye.
Also a former pre-k/kindergarten teacher, Cantrell says there are three important things that parents and teachers can do to help children deal with painful loss:
1. Listen, validate and reassure. Be patient in answering repeated questions and assure children that it is normal for them to feel mad, sad, or afraid and tearful. If your child expresses worry or sadness, you can provide validation by telling them that you feel sad as well. While acknowledging feelings, be sure to let the child know that, even though the feelings may be overwhelming, they can handle them.
2. Observe. Play close attention to your child’s play, artwork and behavior, for these are the blueprints to their feelings and concerns. Remember, children ages 4 to 6 don’t have the language to express complex emotions but do so through their play and behavior. Notice any themes that may emerge in your child’s play and artwork. Also be aware of behavior changes such as increased aggressiveness, anger or withdrawal. These are signs that your child is having a difficult time with the loss.
3. Engage. Provide opportunities to engage your child in conversation about the loss. Reading fictional picture books that address grief and loss can serve as valuable springboards for discussion. Having your child tell about their artwork can also lead to meaningful interactions. Assist the child in planning a special good-bye for their pet. It may be a traditional funeral or a memorial in which the children draw pictures for the pet, make gifts, and or take a special walk in the pet’s honor. Children have many good ideas about how they wish to say good-bye to their special family friend. Be sure to ask, listen, and assist in the implementation of these ideas. “
Author Lisa Chalifoux just took part in an interview over at Blog Talk Radio, and shares a little about her experience working with me on our book “Spotty & Eddie Learn to Compromise.” Lisa also chats a bit about her experience with self-publishing her first book.
You can listen to the interview here!
“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….
Children will enjoy the opening and closing pages that are filled with tiny yellow chicks…. Rating 4 out of 5 stars.”
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 (http://www.sunshinecable.com/~drumit)
“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.”