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Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying Paperback – November, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Play Therapy Supervisor, international trainer, and recipient of the 1997 Play Therapy International award for a major contribution to the field of Play Therapy and Child Psychology. Award-winning author of several books for all ages, she specializes in storytelling as a healing process. Dr. Mills is the founder and executive director of the StoryPlay Center and in private practice in Scottsdale AZ.

Where Is My Mommy? was illustrated by Cary Pillo, a Seattle artist whose work appears in dozens of books and hundreds of magazine issues. Her largest single client is Scholastic, which produces hundreds of books for children. Her illustrations have appeared in Parenting Press publications for at least a dozen years, including Internet Safety and Your Family [link], a quarterly for parent educators (Parenting Education Practitioners Talk [link]), and the monthly, "News for Parents." [link] She earned a degree in fine art and design at Washington State University.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Magination Pr; 2 edition (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591470722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591470724
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. S. Miller on April 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I originally bought this book to read to my children, on the plane ride home to Michigan, to help them deal with the soon to be death of my father. I had read them a few books about dying and those books were about teaching them it was ok to have all their feelings. That was what I was expecting when I read this on the plane. I was hoping I was giving them some more help in dealing with their feelings, while I (although I hadn't known it at the time) wasn't even thinking about my own. What I ended up getting, though, was a story that was so beautiful and breathtakingly comforting that I was helped, along with my children.

When my father died and we were waiting for the coroner, I told my mother about the book I had just read the children called Gentle Willow. I was hoping that it's metaphorical story would bring her some of the same comfort it brought me. My mom made me get it right then and she read it while we waited. My mom could not believe how the story was just like my dad's situation. When he was in his coma he was like the catapillar who was in a dark place, but with his death he would be well again and in heaven and he would now have the gift of becoming the butterfly. This thought and story brought my mom so much peace she ordered copies to give all her friends. She has since commissioned a glass artist to do a mosaic of the Gentle Willow and the yellow butterfly to be done and hung in her church. There was actually an article in the newspaper about the Mosaic and how the book, Gentle Willow, helped her during the death of my father.

As far as how it helped my children, they are 18 and 19 now and they still read Gentle Willow when someone has died.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book. I bought this book for my 3 yr old to help explain death to him after my husband passed away. It was perfect because it explained about being sick and not being able to be fixed sometimes. This was similar to what we were going through with my husband who had cancer. Our son always knew his father has being sick and going to the doctor...so this helped to explain.
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I didn't love this book as much as others did, I guess. I bought it to help explain to my 5 year why his grandpa passed away, but it really didn't help as I expected it to. The story was just so long and drawn out about something so simple and it was written so metaphorically yet childishly that we both lost interest. At the end we were both kind of like .....mmm...what? The book has a beautiful message that is unfortunately hidden (and lost) in a bunch of nonsensical fluff. I felt that my 5 year old was too old and too young for this book at the same time. We just didn't really benefit from this one.
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Format: Paperback
My father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I got this book for my 9 year old daughter. It is her favorite, and I love it too. It is very gentle and calm and sweet. A story about dying and how life goes on. I love it!
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Format: Paperback
In the last months of my husband's battle against cancer, I struggled to find ways to talk about death and dying with our young preschool-aged children. I checked out numerous books from the library--about cancer, about death and dying, about coping--but they all lacked the depth of compassion that this sweet story supplies. As a parent, I appreciated the gentleness yet seriousness with which this difficult topic is discussed as well as the fact that the non-human characters and the strong reliance on metaphor allowed the story to be transferable to a variety of situations (my children were unable to relate to stories about the death of grandparents or pets, as devastating as those situations can be in their own right). This was the only story that I found that my children wanted to read again and again, and that touched them on an emotional level--but more than that, it opened up a way for all of us to discuss the issue further, on our own terms, in our own time, with respect to our own situation. It is nine months later, and my children still love to read this book. Even when we haven't read it for a while, they often refer to it when their questions about why their daddy had to die bubble to the surface. They use the metaphor as a way to ask/frame their questions. And I can use it (or extend it as needed) in the same way. It is a common and easy reference point for ongoing discussion about a topic that sometimes is too emotionally difficult to approach head-on.
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This was a very sweet story. It would be best used on a child who is able to draw analogies. I am a school counselor who often deals with children in the public school setting who are not able to relate such stories to their lives. However, it is a very good book.
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This book could be VERY good for a terminally ill child or child of terminally ill parents... anything to do with terminal illnesses. It talks about how the tree is experiencing "not feeling well" and such. It is NOT for kids under 5 years old. The language is too vague for kids younger than that. You have to be able to understand metaphors for this to resonate with you.
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