Book review: Boats for papa; 5 out of 5 stars #bookaday

Boats for papa book coverby Jessixa Bagley
Picture Book
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 1.8
5 out of 5 stars

For many adults, me included, this book is a tear-jerker. Children, though, will probably have a milder reaction to this story of love, loss, and missing people.

The main characters are Buckley, and young beaver, and his mother. They live in a house by the sea, and Buckley builds boats for his father, who is not present in the story, and sends them out to sea to his missing father. His idea is that if the boats don’t come back, he knows his father has them. It’s a truly beautiful idea of a way for a child, missing a parent, to deal with the hurt and feel a connection.

We never find out why Buckley’s father is not with the family; we just know that Buckley and his mother miss him greatly. The father could be in the military, he could have passed away, or he could have left because of divorce. I like that the author leaves his absence undefined. It allows a wider range of readers to connect with the emotion of the story.

Ultimately, though, Buckley and his mother also reaffirm that they “always had each other.” Bagley ended the story on the perfect note, and the illustration tells the entire story. The watercolor and pen illustrations are perfect for this moving story.

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