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The Goodbye Boat Hardcover – February 26, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1 edition (February 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080285186X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802851864
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 8.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With minimal text and artwork that brims with symbolism, this picture book explores the difficult subject matter of the death of a loved one and a family's ensuing grief. Joslin and St. Louis Little introduce a young family enjoying a beach outing with an elderly woman. Before long, the woman and two children see a large ship approach and the woman apparently gets on board, sailing out of sight leaving "sad friends... weeping" on the shore. Later (several seasons have passed) we see her standing on the ship's deck "sailing somewhere new." While the spare text is evocative and thought-provoking, coupled with the sequence of paintings here, its brevity will likely prove confusing for young readers. The elderly woman waves goodbye on one page, then on the next page she's back, petting the dog. The season also turns from sunny summer to chilly fall on the same spread. Joslin's overarching message, that the pain of grief eventually subsides and that there is a positive afterlife experience, is a comforting one; unfortunately, it's poorly executed. Although her characters have limbs that sometimes appear rubbery and out of proportion, the artist achieves an appropriately sentimental and sometimes serene mood in her oil paintings. Ages 2-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2With only a word or a very short phrase per page, Joslin takes readers through a highly encapsulated but effective experience of losing a loved one through death, grieving, and recovering. The richly colored rectangular paintings appear in various sizes on each spread and have flat, simplified forms. They show a young boy and girl who savor the seaside in the company of an older, white-haired woman. She then waves good-bye and sets sail on the ocean, leaving them sad and bewildered through a period of gray days and dark nights. Eventually, however, the children enjoy the sunny beach once again, and the sailing ship bearing their dear friend glides into a golden, tree-lined shore (Yet when the boat/has gone from view/its surely sailing/somewhere new). The entire image is expressive and lovely.Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Lawton on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunatly, this is the only book that I have found that is appropriate for toddlers.

Because preschoolers and toddlers take adults words very literally, and generally think of death as something reversible, "The Goodbye Boat" is not a good good book to explain death. In the book, the grandmother dies and sails around on a ship. This gives children the impression that when people die, they go on a boat ride and eventually return.

This book is very confusing for young children. A good alternative would be "When Dinosaurs Die"
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
by SMFran Gangloff@aol.com
In a 28-page color picture book titled The Goodbye Boat, Mary Joslin, writer, and Claire St. Louis Little, color illustrator, (Grand Rapids Mich., Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999, hard cover) present a message about dying, a message in pictures and words where the emotions of grieving find hope in a boat sent out to sea. The pain and sadness of saying "goodbye" find a resurrection motif in the boat sailing out of sight and into a new place. Appropriate and meaningful for all ages, the book holds special appeal for children and those guiding children through the death experience of a grandparent or someone close. I read the book to the young grandchildren of my sister after her death. These children asked me to reread the book to them several times, and each time they had new questions for me. This book offered me a wondeful way to say how Grandma had gone away on the sea of eternity.
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By Cheryl Cairns on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Simple, easy to understand, maybe a bit too simple, seems specific to losing a grandparent, could be less about a grandparent and include different members of a family. Bought this for my 3 year old granddaughter that's lost her Daddy. Not sure if she'll think she may be losing her Nana soon. Still so little out there written for a very young person. Seems like we mostly believe only older people die.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on July 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Saying goodbye to someone you love is always hard. Saying goodbye when someone you love dies is perhaps the hardest thing of all.
I remember those days when I left for boarding school or to emigrate to America. I was the one leaving in those days. I was on a Goodbye Boat. Later, I stood & watched others leave for faraway places or, as is inevitable, leaving life.
Few words, rich pictures, extra-ordinarily rich pictures & a lot to think about!
For every family raising conscious children - when grandparents & pets & friends die & go away.
A simple, passionately illustrated meditation of life & death & life.
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