Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
Kane Miller, 1984

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is four years old and lives next door to an "old people's home," where he has numerous friends. He overhears that his best friend Miss Nancy lost her memory, but Wilfrid doesn't know what memory is. When he asks all his friends at the home about it, he gets a variety of answers that he interprets in his own way to help Miss Nancy.

What a truly lovely book. It contains what I consider to be the essential components of a wonderful picture book: a deceptively simple story, concisely told and relatable, with gorgeous illustrations. Mem Fox and Julie Vivas certainly deliver that here, and the collaboration is such that the sum of the writing and illustrations is greater than the two parts. Every word is absolutely necessary, and each illustration is luminous and expressive.

In my experience, there are not many picture books that address intergenerational friendships. In fact, this is the only one I've come across in which the relationships depicted are purely friendships and the child is not related to any of the elderly characters. It is refreshing and wonderful and I hope there are more like it that I simply haven't found yet.


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