Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 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 who lived there.

Premise/plot: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge has many friends; but his most special friend has four names just like him: Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. When he hears that she is losing her memory--or has "lost" her memory, Wilfrid sets out in search of it. But first, he has to know exactly what a memory is. So, being young and curious, he asks. Equipped with descriptions of exactly what memory is, he sets out on a quest. Will the items he collects be just what Miss Nancy needs?

My thoughts: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a life-affirming picture book that readers of all ages can enjoy. I think perhaps that adults might appreciate it a tiny bit more. The book affirms--celebrates--life, friendship, and memories.

It affirms life, affirms all stages of life. This is a biblical message whether Fox intended it or not. Life has dignity and worth regardless of if you're in the womb or if you're ninety-six years old. One's worth or value does not depend on what we think of ourselves, or what others think of us. Miss Nancy may be "losing" her memory--suffering from dementia. But her life is not without value. Miss Nancy is still one of the best friends worth having--in the eyes of our hero, Wilfrid.

It affirms friendship. Wilfrid values his friends. Most of his friends live in an old people's home. He values them; he values the time they spend together. He doesn't pity them, he values them--values them just the way they are.

It affirms memories--new and old. This book is just as much about creating new memories as it is "finding" or "discovering" lost memories. Life is worth living in the moment. Even if your loved one has "lost" his/her memories. Even if your loved one struggles to remember things--people, places, events, etc--doesn't mean they're incapable of enjoying the moment they're in today. While it may be completely natural to mourn the loss of a relationship, don't lose sight of the continuing relationship.

Earlier in the year I read Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia by John Dunlop. I'm going to share two quotes that I think speak to Wilfrid's character:
Compassion is not only showing love and kindness, but it is also understanding how others feel and then allowing ourselves to feel that same way. It is taking the time and effort to get into their lives to see the world as they see it.
They may feel much more than they know, and how they feel may be far more important to them then what they know.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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