Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a young boy who lives next door to an old people's home. Inquisitive and friendly, he knows and likes everyone residing there and the feeling seems mutual. Wilfrid finds out that his favorite person, Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, has
lost her memory and he is determined to find out what a memory is. He receives
a different response from each resident. A memory is, "something sad", "something
warm", "something that makes you laugh", and so Wilfrid creates his own basket of memories to share with Miss Nancy. His memories spark her memories of a beach, her brother that never came home from
the war, and many more.
The illustrations in this picture book reach out and grab
the reader right from the start. Drawn in bold, pastel, watercolors, each character
in the book comes alive with their individual personalities and eccentricities. Wilfrid
himself almost bounds across the page with energy and exuberance. The reader
is introduced to Mr. Hosking, who likes to tell scary stories, Mrs. Jordan, playing the piano, and Mr. Drysdale, with a voice like a giant. (Fox 1985).
Originally published in Australia, there are few clues to setting with the exception that Mr. Tippet, a resident at the old folks home, is partial
to 'cricket', a sport which is not played predominantly in the USA. The reader sees chickens in the yard and a clothesline indicating Wilfid
lives outside city limits. The illustrations surround the reader with the slower pace of the old folks.
An old people's home is not unique to Australia but
this book does reflect a collective group, the aged, not often represented in stories.
This stories' endearing quality, "is its non-patronizing focus on old people" (Farr, Amazon.com).
There is a rhythmic language that keeps the pacing of the
story. The cover art depicts a sweet old lady with an energetic boy peeping out
from behind her chair inviting the reader to find out what is going to happen next.
The art and the writing work hand in hand to weave a sentimental story reminding us that young and old have the capacity
to benefit from one another.