Friday, May 18, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Author/Illustrator: Mem Fox/ Julie Vivas
Publisher/Date: Kane/Miller Book Publishers/ 1985

Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+

Themes: memory, old age, secrets, friendship, intergenerational relationships

Opening: "There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what's more he wasn't very old either.  His house was next door to an old people's home and he knew all the people that lived there."

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: "A small boy, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, knows and likes all of the old folks in the home next door, but his favorite is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she has four names, too. Hearing that she has lost her memory, he asks the old folks what a memory is ("Something from long ago" ; "Something that makes you laugh;" "Something warm;" etc.), ponders the answers, then gathers up memories of his own (seashells collected long ago last summer, a feathered puppet with a goofy expression, a warm egg fresh from the hen) to give her. In handling Wilfrid's memories, Nancy finds and shares her own. The illustrations are splashy, slightly hazy watercolors in rosy pastels which contrast the boy's fidgety energy with his friends' slow, careful movements and capture the story's warmth and sentiment." John Peters, New York Public Library

Why I Love This Book:
Children can be open, honest, sincere, and literal, all of which make Wilfrid endearing.  They often don't see the social labels or notice the differences among people, making them the perfect conduit through which to open our adult eyes. 

Writing prompt: What's a memory to you? Why?

Make a collection of artifacts, like Wilfrid does, and tell the stories behind each one.

Hear the story read here:  Site also includes a number of related activities.

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


  1. I enjoyed Julie Vivas's illustrations in "Let's Eat." Her partnership with Mem Fox looks like it would make a great book!

  2. This book sounds absolutely lovely, and would be wonderful for kids who deal with older people and wonder why they don't remember... Thank you!

  3. This is a new to me Mem Fox title. My son and I visit a "grandma" with dimentia. This would be a good fit for us to read.


  5. This is a new Mem Fox book to me. I really like it. Very helpful book to use when a grandparent or someone they know is dealing with dementia. Like this a lot.

  6. I love this book and cry every time I read it. Thank you so much for adding it to the list.

  7. I totally LOVE that he collects memories for her. This one is on my Books That Teach list; thanks for the link to activities!

    The Corner On Character

  8. I would pick this book out just for the title alone! It sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  9. Oh Laura...what a find!
    Intergenerational books are so important for young children...especially these days when many miles often separate extended families.
    I love the activities/resources...will definitely grab a copy from the library. Thank you for a wonderful review. :)

  10. Another Mem Fox book! It has to be great. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the review.