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Parents' Guide to

Boats for Papa

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 3+

Tender, moving story about boy and mom dealing with loss.

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In this tender, understated tale about loss, Bagley never spells out what happened to Papa, but the quiet sadness felt by both Buckley and Mama suggests he's died. Buckley and Mama have a loving life together by the sea, and Buckley busies himself collecting driftwood, which he carves into elaborate boats with notes to Papa. Mama's sad, too, stepping outside to gaze at the night sea, but she creates a loving home for Buckley. Healing comes from their connection and from creation; Buckley throws himself into planning and crafting intricate driftwood boats and looks happiest when working.

The quiet accumulation of detail makes this a powerful, moving tale: The family pictures on the wall include ones with Papa, and the endpaper shows Buckley adding a boat to the display of all he's made, a time line of his grief. Young readers may be confused about exactly what happened to Papa, but they'll apply the story to their own tender situations.

Book Details

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