Blue Toboggan

by Joanna Kraus

“Blue Toboggan is a brave book in the sense that many parents don’t want to expose their children to death and how to deal with it in a positive way. I hope it finds a wide audience.” – Al Garrotto, author :”There’s More…a novella of Life and Afterlife” and “One White Horse”

Blue Toboggan is a children’s free verse book inspired by a true story. Will and Danny were the best of friends and always together. But when Danny loses his best friend, nothing matters anymore. Ice cream doesn’t taste the same. School isn’t fun. The blue toboggan that they’d saved their money for is now long forgotten. But when the third grade class plants a tree in Will’s memory, Danny discovers that love and friendship don’t have to die…as long as he remembers.

“What a profound, honest story devoid of sentimentality, moralizing and easy answers, for Danny must find his own way to cope with grief. And what excellent writing. Every word is right and necessary, as is every detail. The bubble gum on the desk seat is an exquisite and poignant detail. Congratulations! on writing a book layered with richness. I think this book goes beyond children dealing with grief. Its message is ageless and can speak to anyone dealing with grief or trying to assist a grief-stricken person. Your book is a treasure.”

—Beverly Lauderdale, Author In Franklin’s HouseNotes When Summer Ends, teacher at Holy Names University and Mt. Diablo Unified School District, California

“This is a story of childhood friendship, which is enduring, all-consuming, and irreplaceable. It is the way those friendships, always to be cherished; not to be diminished by circumstance. Will and Danny were inseparable, until a day when their lives were separated and not to be reunited. The grief in childhood takes on a deeper meaning somehow. It is not readily understood. This book by Ms. Kraus shows us the depth of the sorrow and the resilience of friendships, old and new. Sharing this grief, lessens the sorrow, but does not erase it. Shared memories allow the heart to begin to heal. Ms. Kraus has captured the feeling in the sensitive topic, but it is a book of hope that encourages a positive view of a sensitive subject. ‘Spectacular’ as Will would say.”

—Book Mom

Blue Toboggan is the unusual and beautiful survivor story, of Danny, depressed by the death of his best friend, Will, and how, through positive action he copes with this childhood trauma. Sensitively written for a young audience, death is not spoken by its name, but implied. It is Danny’s warm-hearted teacher who helps find a way for Danny, as well as Will’s other classmates, to honor Will’s memory and to come to an acceptance of this early loss.”

—Sally P. Tubach

“For children 8-12, this sensitively written and illustrated book deals with grief and how to cope with loss by turning to friends and family for support-and by cherishing special memories.”

—Sarah Lawrence Magazine

“Joanna Kraus’s touching picture book, Blue Toboggan, should be recognized as one of the only published picture books addressing the delicate subject of a young boy’s grief when his best friend (Will) suddenly passes away. In almost all picture books that feature a child’s loss of a loved one, the main character is a girl who mourns the death of her best friend or pet or farm animal or grandparent. But in Blue Toboggan, Ms. Kraus has honed in on the feelings of a young boy trying to cope. The book not only draws in the reader to feel Danny’s immense sadness, but what or who can specifically help him get on with his life while comforted by the memories of his friend. Blue Toboggan is an ideal book for children, both boys and girls, that provides a heartfelt, consoling story of one confronting loss, and prevailing over it.”

—Trudi Y. Gardner

“This book is so sensitively written, beautifully capturing the multi-layered experience of loss. So many emotions are artfully expressed: sadness, despair, anger, resentment; and also fondness, love, and, eventually, hope. It also nicely portrays the feelings of isolation that can come with loss, eventually showing the arc back to connectedness with others.”

“The poignant and beautiful children’s book The Blue Toboggan by Joanna H. Kraus fills an important need in children’s literature. Will and Danny are the best of friends and do everything together. When they see a blue toboggan in a store window, they have to have it. They perform odd jobs for family and neighbors and save their earnings to buy the awesome toboggan with its three silver racing stripes. Soon they will realize their dream of sailing down Wildberry Hill together. Winter fast approaches and they almost have enough money. “Spectacular!” says Will.

One day, before they make their purchase, Will is gone. Life, for Danny, no longer has meaning.

So often children who lose a friend to death are left on the periphery of the grieving process. They are not a family member of the deceased nor do they have the coping skills of an adult. Often they become isolated in their pain and grief, unsure as to how to go on.

In this touching story, Kraus describes how concerned adults and classmates help Danny express and work through his grief in a life-affirming manner. Danny comes to cherish his memories of Will and the fun times they had together.

The reader never learns the circumstances of Will’s death. In this regard, Kraus has made an excellent decision because it allows young readers to project their own personal experience of loss onto the template of this story. The evocative and colorful illustrations by Chiara Savarese further serve to bring the story alive. The Blue Toboggan is a wonderful tool for use by parents, teachers, and psychotherapists to help children cope with the confusing and heartbreaking loss of a close friend.”

—Peggy D. Snyder, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

“This book is ideal for supporting children through their grief and sends the important message that even when a loved one dies, we can find comfort in memories and move towards healing. Two young boys have been friends since Kindergarten. They did everything together and shared a very close bond. When one of the boys dies, the other is left to face the sadness of losing his best friend. He misses him greatly, but, over time, he finds ways to cope and moves towards a place of healing. The concept of loss is addressed in a thoughtful and sensitive manner.

This is a very moving, important children’s book that educates about grief using simple, relatable language. Using colorful, multicultural illustrations, it is conveyed that loss is universal and that love lasts forever. In coping with loss, this book offers ideas for continuing bonds, such as planting a tree in a loved one’s memory, and encourages the reader to focus on remembrance and healing.”

Jessica Lawrence, LCSW

Congratulations on your book! You tackled such a hard and difficult subject but in an honest, enlightening way that kids will understand and appreciate. That is not an easy feat and you mastered it

Angela Dalton,.Author, “If You Look Up to the Sky”

Find more information about the author at

ISBN: 978-1-63177-836-0

sku: 04-1483-01