- Finding François: A Story about the Healing Power of Friendship by Gus Gordon
Gordon, Gus Finding François: A Story about the Healing Power of Friendship; written and illus. by Gus Gordon. Dial, 2020 [40p] Trade ed. ISBN 9780525554004 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781984815880 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-7 yrs
Little piglet Alice and her beloved grandmother spend their days traipsing about the streets of Paris, and while she loves visiting their friends, she wishes she had a pal her own age. Ever resourceful, Alice puts a message in a bottle and tosses it into the Seine, where it drifts along, out into the ocean and to the shores of a tiny island where it is picked up by François, who promptly writes back. The two quickly become pen pals, but "then one day, Alice's grandmother was gone," a tragedy that leaves Alice so bereft she doesn't write for a full year. Eventually, though, she rediscovers her letters from François and not only sends him another letter but also goes to his island for a visit. There's a nice balance of joyful warmth and contemplative pathos, and the book is particularly respectful of Alice's grieving process, subtly underlining the fact that simply waiting for a friend to work through feelings is a form of support. The watercolor, pencil, and collage art pops with Parisian flair, especially as Alice and her grandmother visit bakeries and flower shops, and elements of "old found papers" give a touch of sophistication. Young readers may appreciate the timely message that friendships can be maintained over distance and time, and that there is value in both solitude and company.