Written by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Julie Vivas
Children’s Picture Book: 1-4
Stars: 5 (out of 5)
Summary: This is a story of a young boy who helps an old woman find her memories again.
I had heard of this story, but had never had a chance to read it up until this point. I’m glad I did, for I really enjoyed it. The illustrations are wonderful, adding the whimsical nature of the story. What I found to be most intriguing is that Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge’s understanding of what a memory was arose from his interactions with many different individuals. He did not learn to understand memory as we, as adults, understand it. Instead, the way that he understands it is much like a small child or student would understand it. He understood the separate components that his friends at the old people’s home had expressed to him, and yet in the end, the reader could argue that he didn’t understand a memory as a concept. Instead, he understood some examples of memories and the powerful nature of such memories. This being said, the way that Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge understood memory really worked, as he was able to use his knowledge to help his old friend regain her memories. The more interesting part is that one would have assumed that such a collection of objects, while sincere, wouldn’t help the old woman regain her memory. In the end, it did though, which just goes to show the impact that children can have, even when we, as adults, assume that they have incomplete understanding.
I think that students would be able to relate to this story, for there are likely topics that they don’t fully understand, but can provide components that make up such an abstract idea. For example, when talking with students about love, they often provide concrete examples of what love looks like, rather than what it might mean as a concept. As a result of their developmental level, this is often just how they think. Thus, they could really relate to Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and his understanding of what a memory is. It would provide a jumping point into talking with students about what a memory is, as well as introducing other abstract concepts. It could also be a means to explore the importance of providing multiple examples or details to help describe something. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge’s understanding of memory didn’t come from a single place or example, but instead from the compilation of many separate examples and ideas. This would be something that could be used to increase the level or detail in students’ writing. For younger children, it is simply a great read that I think children would love to listen to, especially since the names are so silly.