Picture Book Spotlight: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

August 5, 2011 @ 5:02 pm | Filed under: Books, Picture Book Spotlight

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas.

This may just be my favorite picture book ever. I discovered it during grad school when I worked at a children’s bookstore, and it was love at first read. I don’t think I have ever once read it without tearing up. When I read it to the littles yesterday, Scott had to step in near the end when I was too choked up to speak. It’s a beautiful book, and true in the way that sometimes only fiction is.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a little boy who lives next to an old-age home. He is friends with all the residents and loves to visit them. When he hears his parents say how sad it is that his favorite resident, 93-year-old Miss Nancy, is losing her memory, Wilfrid Gordon quizzes all the other old folks about what a memory is exactly. “It’s something warm,” one tells him. “Something from long ago.” “Something that makes you cry.” “Something that makes you laugh.” And so on.

And so Wilfrid goes off and collects a box of treasures for Miss Nancy—a warm hen egg, a funny puppet, an old medal…

It’s what happens when Miss Nancy handles the gifts that always makes me cry. Perfectly lovely, and Julie Vivas’s tender colored pencil drawings are as lovely and moving as the story.

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7 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Im glad Im not the only one who cant get through some childrens books. I heard that when EB White was recording a reading of Charlottes Web he had to go on walks to get himself together to get through the part where Charlotte dies.

  2. Julie Vivas is one of my favourite childrens illustrators! So vibrant.

    I cry during read-alouds all the time. Try Storm Boy by Colin Thiele. Or the bit in the Little House books where Laura is getting ready to leave home, sob.

  3. I also cannot read this one without crying. In my case it reminds me so vividly of my grandmother, who died of Alzheimer’s Disease when my kids were very small. It is a very true book indeed.

  4. My aunt is working on her second children’s book and it’s going to be about a bear and Alzheimer’s.

    Yeah we’re all gonna cry. (My grandfather died a couple years ago – he had it.)

  5. This is my favourite Mem Fox book by far.

    Everyone knows a Miss Nancy. It is just a shame that every Miss Nancy doesn’t know a Wildred Gordon McDonald Partridge…

  6. We love this book! We used to read it in tandem with Sally Wittman’s “A Special Trade.” “The Nativity,” illustrated by Julie Vivas is beautiful as well.

  7. My mum read this to me when I was a child and she used to cry. Now, as a 26 year old guy, I tear up every time I read it. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever found. Both the story and the illustrations are gorgeous and together they make a truly immersive, touching story. A true treasure…