'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 2 July 2020

Review: Finding Francois

Alice lives with her gran. She likes to write lists and draw pictures and cook with her grandmother.

But sometimes she wishes she had a friend her age. So Alice writes a message, puts it in a shiny green bottle and throws it in the ocean.

Across the seas, on the shores of a lighthouse, François finds the bottle. He reads Alice’s message and so begins a friendship across the water.

But when Alice’s gran passes away, things change. Time passes and there are no more messages in a bottle. 

But after a while, Alice confides in Miss Clement (who’s taking care of her) about her pen pal across the oceans. They hatch a plan to visit François in real life.

I love the whimsy of this story. It matters little that it seems an impossibility that a message in a bottle would ever travel continuously between two friends. In fact, the impossibility of it adds to the magic of the story.

Finding François is a loving and heartfelt picture book about so many things. It’s about friendship and magic and family and grief and imagination and love and the power of words.

How Gus Gordon wraps up so much meaning and emotion in 32 pages, I do not know, but he does. His stories are often little worlds of their own, complete with a suite of characters and history you can feel in the text and see in the illustrations.

And, of course, like all Gus Gordon books, the illustrations are simply divine. Gordon is known for using mixed media in his picture books, adding snippets of photos, textures and a whole range of other images. They are fun to spot and a key part of the Gus Gordon experience.

I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Finding François. It is truly a delight. And if you like it (which you will), why not check out some of Gordon's other brilliant picture books. The Last Peach, Somewhere Else and Herman and Rosie come to mind.

Thank you Gus! Another brilliant picture book read filled with whimsy and love.

Title: Finding François
Author/Illustrator: Gus Gordon
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $24.99
Publication Date: 2 July 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780143794141
For ages: 3 - 6
Type: Picture Book