Every new book by Gus Gordon is a treasure. They’re picture books that can be enjoyed by all ages, from new entrants through to Year 8. Gus tugs at your heart-strings and makes you fall in love with his characters. I loved Herman and Rosie (one of Gus’s earlier books) so much that I bought a piece of artwork from the book. Gus’s latest picture book, Finding Francois, is pure perfection and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Alice Bonnet lives with her grandmother. They’re a great team and they love spending time with each other, whether it is baking, going to the park for lunch, or strolling through the city saying hello to all their friends. There are some days, however, when Alice wishes that she had someone her own size to talk to. So, one morning Alice writes a note, puts it in a bottle and throws it into the river. She hopes that someone will reply and, one day, she receives one from Francois. Their friendship grows through their notes, but then tragedy strikes and the notes stop. As Alice discovers though, good friends are always there when you need them.
Finding Francois is a beautiful picture book that is both sad and uplifting. Gus Gordon has an extraordinary gift of making you feel like his characters are your best friends. I became emotionally invested in Alice’s life within a few pages and I wanted her to find a friend. I love how Gus gives you little details about the characters, like the things that Alice and Francois have in common.
‘Like Alice, Francois loved writing lists and reading books. And drawing mermaids too. (Alice wasn’t expecting that!)
But Francois also loved dancing. And wearing funny hats. And origami. And garlic butter. And flower arranging.’
Relationships and connection are a big part of Gus’s books too. Alice has a really strong relationship with her grandma and they build some wonderful memories together. Alice and Francois build a friendship without meeting each other, but this is a strong relationship too.
Gus’s illustrations are superb! Like Lauren Child and Oliver Jeffers, Gus’s illustrations are a mixed media delight. He uses images cut from old French homewares catalogues to stand in for furniture in the illustrations. One illustration even looks like it has been painted over an old French postcard. As well as meeting Alice, Francois and their families, Gus always makes the background characters come alive. You look at these characters and know that they have their own lives (like the bear in the cheese shop). Even the photos on the walls bring Alice’s ancestors alive.
Everyone needs some Gus Gordon in their life. Grab a copy of Finding Francois from your library or bookshop now.