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One Wave at a Time

One Wave at a Time by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Ashley Crowley (Albert Whitman, 2018)

One Wave at a Time TEACHER'S GUIDE (944 KB)

A classroom guide for One Wave at a Time designed for students in kindergarten through third grade. 



After his father dies, Kai experiences all kinds of emotions: sadness, anger, fear, guilt. Sometimes they crash and mix together. Other times, there are no emotions at all—just flatness. As Kai and his family adjust to life without Dad, the waves still roll in. But with the help of friends and one another, they learn to cope—and, eventually, heal. A lyrical story about grieving for anyone encountering loss.

Order One Wave at a Time from your library, your local bookseller, or from Indie Bound, Amazon, or Amazon Japan.



Featured on the Publishers Weekly Social and Emotional Learning Booklist


"When a boy loses his father, waves of emotions wash over him as he grieves and begins to heal. At the dinner table, in the car, at a game—in everyday moments the absence of his father is felt. Fear, anger, and sadness roll in, unpredictable and overwhelming, as his father's items are both treasured and broken. Some days the boy feels numb, and sometimes happiness slips in. Simple drawings with loose washes of color provide literal interpretations of the text, waves looming and engulfing the boy. Moments are represented like pictographs, making this offering seem like a handbook or guide rather than a true picture book. The text's acknowledgement of the various emotions and slow healing process is much needed, and the support group, grief first-aid kit, memory box, and memory chair are important tools that are discussed. Moments when the family members share stories, make music, or just hold one another and listen to each other breathe show healing in process. Finally, when the difficult waves break, the boy has learned to surf them out toward peace..." --Kirkus Reviews


"One Wave at a Time by Holly Thompson and Ashley Crowley takes a lyrical, colorful, and thoughtful look at the effects of depression on a child who has lost a parent. After Kai's father passes away, Kai experiences waves of emotions, one after the other. Sometimes he feels sad, sometimes angry, and other times he feels nothing, just flatness. The waves seem to come in no particular order or time frame. Every day is new, and sometimes those waves even mesh together to make him sad and angry, or fearful and guilty. But as Kai and his family adjust to life without his dad, Kai learns to give himself time and space to feel his feelings, not to tamp them down and feel frustrated with the lack of forward momentum." --Let's Talk Picture Books


"This is the BEST book on the death of a parent I've ever read. Why? Because it really captures what kids go through as well as how parents support kids in their grief. This boy describes the waves of emotion that he feels after the death of his dad. "some waves / are fear waves / that curl me in a ball" There are some days with no waves, just flatness. "I'm like a robot / as I ride the bus, walk the halls" He narrates about the group where he can share about his special person that died. At homes, he adds to his memory box about his dad, makes a grief first aid kit, paint a Memory Chair to share dad memories. What a healthy view of grief! "when Mom cries now, I don't hide / when Ben whines now, I don't (usually) yell / and when I spy a wave, I inhale slow" Added to: Helpful Children's Books About Grief, Loss, and Death --Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup