Children need to spend time with elderly friends…and vice versa.
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Julie Vivas
Publisher: Kane/Miller Publishers, 1989
Written for Ages: 7-12
Summary: Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge lived next to a retirement home. He enjoyed spending time with the residents there. Each member had a unique trait or story that Wilfred appreciated. His favorite elderly lady was Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, so he was sad when he heard his parents say that she was losing her memory. In an effort to help his dear friend, Wilfred showed her some of his special memories…some shells, a puppet, a gold medal, and an egg. His treasures reminded her of moments from her past, and they bonded through more stories and secrets.
Scripture Connection: Young Samuel’s relationship with Eli started before Samuel was even born! Samuel’s mother, Hannah, prayed for a child while in the temple where Eli was a priest. Eli and Hannah bonded through her prayers. When Samuel was born, Hannah dedicated his life to working in the temple with the priest. Samuel grew up learning about the power and presence of God from Eli. (See 1 Samuel 2 & 3).
Theological Connection: Eli was present when Samuel was called to ministry by God. Jesus also showed the importance of learning from elders when he went to the temple as an adolescent (Luke 2:41-52). Throughout Jewish history, priests were veteran members of society with Godly knowledge who were to be valued examples to youth.
Justice Connection: In many homes, grandparents are raising children alongside, or in the place of, parents. These surrogates have life knowledge to be heard and appreciated. By contrast, nursing homes overflow with lonely parents, left behind by their children. These treasures of society should be considered for visits by the church and school groups to remind them of their value.
Faith Talk (God Talk):
- Why did Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge enjoy going to visit the elderly people?
- What fun times did he share with them?
- How did he help them?
- How can we help elderly people in our community?
Parenting Connection: Families aren’t cookie cutter cutouts of each other…1 husband, 1 wife, 1 son, 1 daughter, 1 dog, 1 cat…all living happily together. In some families, grandparents live in the home and provide support for working parents. In other situations, grandparents are nursed by family members where they live. Sadly, distance and awkward dynamics split families and grandparent relationships are not developed. But these elder members are cornerstones of families. They have history to share and wisdom to impart. Parents need to help their children develop connections with older family members or community members so both can benefit from each other.
You can buy your own copy at Amazon or check it out at your local library.