Finding Francois: A Story About the Healing Power of Friendship
Finding Francois: A Story About the Healing Power of Friendship

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Annotation: For fans of A Sick Day for Amos McGee and In a Jar comes a tender and gently adventurous gem about the power of friends ... more
Catalog Number: #220119
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Dial
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-525-55400-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8450-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-525-55400-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8450-4
Dewey: E
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
This fantasy by Gordon (The Perfect Seat) offers a heady mix of Parisian bonhomie and mysteriously conveyed messages. Alice, a small pink pig, quite enjoys living with her grandmother, especially when they cook together: -You are a marvel!- her grandmother tells her. Though Alice loves life-s small pleasures-watercolor-and-pencil drawings in milky hues show Alice getting a special gift from Miss Clément-s dress shop-she longs for a friend her own age. She stuffs a note into a bottle and tosses it into the river, where it-s carried to François, a young dog who lives in a lighthouse. Letters shuttle back and forth as a friendship blooms. Then -Alice-s grandmother was gone,- her chair empty, and grief overcomes the young pig. -Maybe Alice has forgotten me,- François muses. She hasn-t; her new guardian, Miss Clément, arranges a triumphant meeting. Gordon-s story is leavened throughout with gentle, tongue-in-cheek humor (-Where are you?- François writes; -What a good question,- Alice thinks, -I am.../ ...over here-). A jumble of whimsical details (the saga of the bottle-s ocean journey, François-s hobbies) at times distract from the central theme of enduring love, but it-s there amid the diversions. Ages 4-8. (July)

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2 Although she is showered with affection from her grandmother, Alice is a lonely piglet. She concocts a plan that involves magical thinking, a message in a bottle, and sweeping ocean tides. After a fateful journey, her message finds lighthouse-dwelling François. The two strike up an emerging friendship and begin trading messages until Alice's grandmother passes away. The loss causes Alice to retreat in sadness and grief. Upon the urging of her new guardian, Alice visits François and begins to feel a renewed sense of hope and opportunity. This charming features cute animals that make up Alice's found family. Gordon's use of watercolors and soft pencil lines bring texture and depth to the art and reinforces the story's soothing, kid-friendly approach to life after loss. The placement of old found papers seamlessly blends into the illustrations. VERDICT This is a warm, gentle story about resilience and how the bonds of friendship can mend the heart. Sophie Kenney, Aurora P.L., IL
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A piglet and her grandmother lead a cozy and cultured life together on a hilltop in Paris—but something is missing.Alice enjoys reading, making lists, and organizing buttons on her own as well as baking and eating crème brûlée with her beloved guardian. Sometimes, however, she yearns for “someone her own size to talk to.” The bottle she pitches into the Seine is carried by an octopus, a sea gull, and the current across the ocean to François, a lonely lighthouse keeper’s son (a dog). So begins a wonderfully preposterous correspondence in which Gordon’s sly humor and understanding of child logic (very reminiscent of William Steig’s) shine forth. When François inquires as to Alice’s whereabouts, she replies, after some thought: “I am… / …over here. What are you doing over there?” The seascapes, city scenes, and interior views, rendered in cheery, warm watercolors and pencil, are enriched with clippings that appear to be from an antique French catalog; labeled furniture and kitchen items add texture and whimsy. When the protagonist’s grandmother dies and the little pig goes to live with kindly Miss Clément (an antelope), readers will witness Alice’s withdrawal and grief (and François’ confusion at the silence), until “the dark clouds slowly packed up their things and shuffled into the distance, and the sun sprung forth.” A lighthouse visit and the resumption of baking show it is possible to accommodate loss into living.Elegant language, endearing characters, and irresistible images will warm hearts and minds with each reading. (Picture book. 4-7)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Alice lives happily with her beloved grandmother in Paris, but she longs for a sibling or a friend. Putting a message in a bottle one day, she flings it into the river, which flows into the ocean. On the shore near his father's lighthouse, young François finds it, reads the message, and, after writing "a carefully considered reply," tosses the bottle back into the sea. Alice retrieves it, and so begins a friendly correspondence. One day, her grandmother is "gone" (an empty chair suggests her death). Alice, full of sadness, goes to live with their friend Miss Clement. At first, Alice hasn't the heart to write to François, but later Miss Clement suggests that they visit him. After a happy stay at the lighthouse, Alice looks forward to François visiting her in town. This endearing picture book, set in Paris, is populated with human-dressed animal characters. Created with watercolor, pencils, and vintage printed elements, the expressive illustrations perfectly capture the changing tone of the story, from happy to pensive to wistful to the double-page scene of sadness when Alice, missing her grandmother, stares at the rain outside her window. The precisely worded text, full of intriguing details, reads aloud beautifully. A heartening, memorable picture book.
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Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (6/1/20)
Reading Level: 1.0
Interest Level: P-2

For fans of A Sick Day for Amos McGee and In a Jar comes a tender and gently adventurous gem about the power of friends to soothe aches big and small.

Alice, a little piglet, loves life with her grandmother, making lists and crème brûlée, organizing buttons, and taking walks. Still, Alice wishes she had a sister--or even a brother. So, she does the sensible thing: She writes a note ("Hello! I am Alice."), tucks it into a bottle, and tosses it into the river, where it drifts out to sea, is captured by an octopus, picked up by a seagull, and arrives at a faraway lighthouse. There, François, a little dog, lives with his dad. François is everything Alice could wish for in a friend, and soon the seas are busy with their bottled correspondence. But when a big change comes, and Alice can't bring herself to write François more letters, will the simple comforts of time, love, and friendship restore the light to Alice's life?

In this marvelous, gently funny and reassuring tale, the lucky and lovely friendship between Alice and François spans the length of the River Seine and the loss of a loved one. Award-winning author and artist Gus Gordon captures the highs and lows of being little, and tenderly shepherds kids on a journey full of fantastic possibilities, friendship, and healing.

* "Reminiscent of William Steig...Will warm hearts and minds with each reading." --Kirkus (starred review)
* "Endearing...Expressive...Intriguing...Heartening...Memorable" --Booklist (starred review)
"Joyful [and] contemplative...[A] timely message that friendships can be maintained over distance and time." --BCCB
"Triumphant...Gentle tongue-in-cheek humor [amid a] central theme of enduring love." --PW
"Charming...[A] soothing, kid-friendly approach to life after loss." --SLJ
"Earnest and playful...tender and inviting." --The Horn Book

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