Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Every once in a while, someone will ask me to name my all-time favorite children’s picture book. In those situations, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a single title above all others, but I could probably create a Top Ten list, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge would most definitely be on it. This sweet book by Mem Fox, written in the 1980s, brings young Wilfrid, "a small boy who wasn’t very old, either," to the nursing home next door to his house to visit its residents. Wilfrid enjoys the company of many of them because they play music, tell scary stories, or love cricket, but his favorite is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, 96, who has four names just like he does.

Miss Nancy has apparently lost her memories. Wilfrid wants to know what memories are, so he asks his parents and his other elderly friends, who answer with simple phrases like "something you remember," "something that makes you laugh, or cry," or "something as precious as gold."

Wilfrid goes looking for memories for Miss Nancy, and accidentally helps her by collecting some items that remind him of special things ~ some shells, a puppet, a medal from his grandfather, a football, and a fresh egg from a nearby hen. He places them all in a basket and takes them to her as a gift. As she examines each item, she begins to retrieve some of her own precious memories and share them with Wilfrid.

Julie Vivas’ soft, warm illustrations perfectly complement the story, rendering each character with humor, personality, and the dignity the topic deserves. We all have people in our lives who may need assistance finding their memories at some point in their lives, and children can work wonders in that regard without even knowing it. You owe it to yourself to read this book. Fortunately, it’s still in print and still available at the library after all these years; you will want to preserve it for generations to come.

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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