Book Review: Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

Boats for Papa is a picture book by Jessixa Bagley. Buckley and his Mama live in a cozy cabin by the ocean. He loves to carve boats out of the driftwood he finds on the beach nearby. He makes big boats, long boats, short boats, and tall boats. Each one is more beautiful than the last, and sends them out to sea. If they don't come back, he knows they've found their way to his papa, whom he misses very much.

Boats for Papa is a story about love and grief. Buckley is a young bear that missing his father. It is never clearly stated whether his father is dead or just gone, but it is clear that both Buckley and his mother miss having father in their lives. The boats Buckley make to send over the water to his father are varied and beautiful, and when they do not return he just knows that they have made their way to his father. Each boat carries a note to Papa, and it is writing one note that Buckley discovers a secret and how much his mother loves him.


Boats for Papa is a a story that is sweet and sad all at once. While adult books are not often able to make me cry, this kind of picturebook has me sniffling back the tears. children suffering grief will be able to relate to this book, and see that they are not alone. it could also help them see that those around them are hurting too. The illustrations are hauntingly sweet and a perfect match for the story. It will be awhile before I do not tear up just thinking about this book. 

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