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Boats for Papa

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,041 ratings  ·  256 reviews
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 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.
In this stunning debut, aut
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published June 30th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,041 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grieving children and adults who are trying to help them
Well, this book is amazing in about a billion ways.

Let's talk about it.

A little beaver and his mom live on the beach.

Buckley and his mama lived in a small wooden house by the sea. They didn't have much, but they always had each other.

Buckley loves exploring the beach and picking up the things he finds on the beach. And he loves to make things, especially boats, out of the driftwood he finds.

“Mama, look what I made for Papa!” said Buckley.

“What a wonderful boat! Your papa would be proud!” said Ma
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So I’m a snob. A children’s literature snob. I accept this about myself. I do not embrace it, but I can at least acknowledge it and, at times, fight against it as much as I am able. Truth be told, it’s a weird thing to get all snobby about. People are more inclined to understand your point of view when you’re a snob about fine china or wines or bone structure. They are somewhat confused when you scoff at their copy of Another Monster at the End of This Book since it is clearly a sad sequel of t ...more
David Schaafsma
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this because I initially skimmed Carmen's review, which I suggest you check out, because it has much of the story in the review and some actual pages from it so you can see the lovely art.

Bagley's book is the story of a mama beaver and her son Buckley who live along the Oregon coast (how do I know this? Because Bagley said she lived in Portland but before I even learned that I recognized some of the ocean scenes from traveling there last August! So
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A sophisticated but gentle book about loss and healing. Buckley, the young beaver, lives with his mother by the sea. They don't have much but they have each other. Buckley misses his Papa and one day sends a boat he has made out to him, believing that if the boat doesn't return his papa has received it. The boat does not come back and Buckley continues to send the boats on special days. And then one day, he finds all of his boats carefully collected and kept by his mama, so his final boat is to ...more
Buckley and his mama miss his papa. They live near the ocean and take walks on the beach everyday and Buckley collects driftwood and carves it into elaborate boats as gifts for his father.

He attaches a little note to each boat and sends them off into the ocean hoping that they will reach his father only to find that his mother has been collecting each boat as it washes ashore. When he sends his next boat out, he addresses it to a different recipient.

Pen and watercolor illustrations. The artwork
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Oh goodness, this book. It's every bit as emotionally stirring as I had heard. Moving and understated-- and, importantly for a picture book that deals with loss and grief, not manipulative or saccharine. The watercolor illustrations are stunning, and really provide a distinct sense of place for this story. The Pacific Northwest coastal setting looks beautifully chilly, and I love the inclusion of stoves and blankets in the interior scenes, making Buckley and his mama's little shack seem all the ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ok, try to tell me this isn't the best picture book of the year. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Edward Sullivan
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A poignant, touching, gentle story about a grieving mother and son.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for Children's Stories About the Loss of a Parent
Buckley and his mother lived in a modest wooden house by the sea, leading a quiet life together. The young beaver liked living by the beach. He liked collecting all the things he found washed up on the shore. Most of all, he like making boats. Buckley made all kind of boats - big and small, long and short. The best boats were always reserved for his absent Papa - launched onto the sea with a message of love, in the hopes that they would somehow reach the beloved paternal recipient for whom they ...more
Kristine Hansen
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is just sad. A little boy keeps sending boats out to see to try and reach papa. Seriously, do we need to see the broken ship pieces and castoff lifeboat on know nothing good has happened here....sigh. Sad little story. Brave little mother. I think my heart is broken.

It's a good book for children who are grieving a loss. I think I liked best the part where he realizes what his mother has done, and then how they move on together from that point. The best picture is the last
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
No, YOU read this book while working the public desk at the library on a quiet Friday morning and had to stifle your tears. Boats for Papa is beautifully illustrated, full of melancholy, and packs a big punch for an Easy Picture book. It's not a Storytime read-aloud, but it would be excellent for any family with small children facing the loss of someone. Let's face it, it would be a good read for anyone who is grieving, regardless of age.

I ordered in this book because it's on lots of lists for
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Age: Preschool-3rd grade
Family: Mother and son
Tough Issues: Death of father

This is such a beautiful, well written story. Accompanied by soft illustrations we follow Buckley as he sends out miniature boats to papa whom he misses very much. When they don't come back, Buckley is certain his papa has received them. The twist in the story will bring you close to tears as we see the tenderness that the mother holds for her son.
Michele Knott
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book that shows the love of a parent for a child.
As I read this book, I wonder what the story behind the story is, I wonder what experiences the author had that prompted her to write it.
My heart went out to little Buckley and his kind-hearted mama.
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Boats for Papa" is a truly beautiful story. One of compassion and caring. Simple in form, but so effective in conveying the subtle complexities of dealing with loss. A book that has touched my spirit. Highly recommended to anyone that has a child, or has ever been one.
Holly Mueller
Oh my, this one is a tear-jerker. Beautiful illustrations accompany a poignant story about a few stages of grief (denial, acceptance) and the love of a mother. One of my favorites this year!
Sara Cook
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet book with a pull your heart strings ending.
The illustrations are lovely!
When someone you love has died it leaves a huge hole in your heart. You wish to see their face, hear their voice or laughter or feel their hand holding your hand. You miss them so much a smell can make you believe they are near to you. Perhaps they passed by the same spot seconds before you arrived.

You may transfer plants from their gardens to your gardens wherever you live no matter how many times you move. Without realizing it, you will acquire certain habits similar to their habits. You will
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is it for me. This is the exact type of book that I look for when recommending titles to parents who are searching for books dealing with major issues like loss and grief. This book deals with loss and grieving in the most beautifully loving way. No judging the ways in which someone grieves, no time limits for grieving, nothing. Love and understanding and patience are what shine in this beautiful and gentle story. Buckley and Mama are dealing with the loss of Papa by sending boats that Buck ...more
This is one of those sweet, perfect picture books that hits you right in the feels. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful, and I love the nuance they carry even as they achieve simplicity. The story is told without pretension (which is a feat, since books like these can so easily veer into the mawkish), and the straightforward language reads easily, naturally. Just enough is said, and just enough is left unsaid, and if you know the ending that is coming, your heart will squeeze all the way ...more
Sandy Brehl
The colors, scenes, and language of this book allow a complex and difficult story involving grief and longing to seep gently into our minds and hearts. These animal characters (beavers) become instantly humanized, not because they are wearing clothes, but because what they experience is universally recognizable. Even the youngest will understand and appreciate this story, but it offers a rich menu of emotions and responses to readers of any age.
It stands up well as "just" a picture book, but ele
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I looked out at my 2nd graders as they were absorbing this story, they were frozen with interest and intrigue. I knew there was something special about this book. The most common question...the only interruption while I read was "What happened to Papa?" And my mother heart nearly wept as I read it. One of the kids, on his own initiative, ran to get me a kleenex just in case. As we closed the back cover (wonderful end pages, by the way), the speculation and discussion began. What a beautiful ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Oh, this book. I love the way it shows us the mother's perspective about halfway through. I love that it delves into her loss as well and how in the end, the boy recognizes it and reaches out to it. She doesn't ask, but he grows up a bit and sees her. Her father is the sea, out of reach. She is his shore.

Beautiful story, fantastic storytelling.
Ms Threlkeld
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A quiet book about grief and the bond between parents and children. Good for making inferences.
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dad-still
Before reading, get some Kleenex. You're going to need them.
This is so sad, but so sweet.
I miss you, Dad.
Recommended, if you want to cry!
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Buckley and his mother live together in a little cabin near the ocean. Buckley loves to explore the beach near their house, collecting driftwood to build little boats. One day he sends a favorite boat out to his father, whom he thinks about often. He decides that if the boat never returns that it means his father received it. The boat doesn’t come back. From then on, on special days, he and his mother send a boat off to his father. Buckley’s boats get better and better. Then on his birthday, Buc ...more
Sharon Tyler
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 fa
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I'm not crying...*sniff*...I've just got something in my eye...*sniff*....OK, I'll admit it, this deeply moving picture book left me a bit misty-eyed with its gentle, light-handed approach to longing, grief, and loss. Little Buckley longs for his Papa, sending boats out to sea in the hopes that one of them will reach his father, wherever he's gone. I don't want to ruin the book's ending, as that might take away from some of the story's joy, but suffice it to say that Buckley and his Mama each d ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lovely pen and watercolor illustrations almost pulse with emotion in this picture book dealing with loss and how we cope with the absence of those who matter to us. Buckley and his mother enjoy living by the ocean and often take walks along the beach. On those walks, they find driftwood, which Buckley uses to make boats. At first, it seems as though perhaps Papa is just away on a trip or working, but as Buckley lavishes time on those boats, sending them out to sea, along with a note, for Papa to ...more
Stephanie Croaning
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, 2016
For many adults, me included, this book is a tear-jerker. 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
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