Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Fox, Mem (Author)
Vivas, Julie (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 1987. 32 pages
First published: 1984
ISBN: 9780140505863 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, dialogue, recurring patterns

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

A little boy with a long name – Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge – connects with a 96-year-old woman in this touching story about aging and human compassion. When Wilfred learns that Miss Nancy, his favourite resident in the nursing home next door, has lost her memory, he embarks on a mission to help her get it back. But first, he enlists the help of other residents, who each offer him their own unique definitions of what comprises a memory (“something that makes you cry, my boy;” “something from long ago, me lad”).

Muted coloured pencil drawings add an old-fashioned flavour to this heartwarming read-aloud/talk-about book that employs both language and imagery to demystify an abstract and difficult subject. When Wilfred brings her some shells he “found long ago last summer” she in turn is able to remember “going to the beach . . . and how hot she had felt in her button-up boots.”

The language is lyrical, “He played with Mr. Tippett who was crazy about cricket,” and tender, “she . . . talked sadly of her brother who she had loved . . .” and tells the story in a simple, straightforward manner.

And so it is that this small boy, “who wasn’t very old either,” learns that there are stories, memories and knowledge tucked away inside the minds of older folks. It’s just a matter of unlocking them.

  •  

    Before reading, look at the cover page and the first and last pages. Surmise what the story might be about. Read the story, then refer back to the title page. What do you think might have happened to Miss Nancy? 

  •  

    In your journal, respond to the question the main character asks: “What’s a memory?” Read your response aloud. How many classmates had similar interpretations? Discuss perspective and the role personal experience plays in how memories are created.

  •  Write out your full name. How many names do you have? Look at your friends’ names; do you have any in common? How do you feel about your names? Who are you named after? How do you think the main character feels about his names? 
  •  Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease. Create a poster informing people about dementia. 
  •  

    Look for words and phrases in the book that describe a memory. Add your own information about memory. Formulate a class definition. Check out a variety of dictionaries and compare the definitions. 

  •  

    Bring in pictures of elderly people you know. For each one, write a sentence describing how that person is special to you. Post these portraits in the hall to let others know about these great people.

  •  

    Create a memory box for your grandparents. Write a letter, record a message or prepare a slide show presentation to tell them the fond memories you have of them. 

    **Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labour Day
    **October 1 is the UN International Day of Older Persons

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship