“Treat yourself sweetly, Aurora. Change happens. It’s the world’s number on constant.”
Meet the bright, big-hearted Aurora Pauline Petrequin. She’s eleven years old, about to start the sixth grade, and her best friend in the whole-wide world is Frenchie Livernois. They are each other’s person. Few can understand why they fit together so well when Aurora is loud and has a tendency to blurt things, while Frenchie does not speak at all. Still, the pair understand each other in a way no one else does. Their friendship is put to the test when the new school year finds Aurora and Frenchie placed in separate classes.
After a rough week of adjusting, Frenchie doesn’t make it to class after drop-off. A frantic search to find Frenchie takes over the school and, soon enough, the entire town is asking the title question – “Anybody here seen Frenchie?”
Pop shakes his head and sighs. I think he feels the same kind of awful I feel. I bet we want the same thing: a do-over, starting from about 7:43 this morning. But he’s not the one who lost Frenchie. That was me.
Amid the chaos of the search, Aurora shares vignettes of her friendship with Frenchie. There are days spent exploring flea markets and novelty shops, wandering a picturesque quarry, swimming lessons at the lake, and moments of stillness in the woods – and a vow to follow an elusive piebald deer if they ever see it again. These memories beautifully exhibit how Frenchie is a vital part of Aurora’s life, how their families have seamlessly melded into a unit bursting with love, support, and determination. And each recollection stokes Aurora’s resolve to find Frenchie.
“So many people,” I say.
“So many helpers who want to see him safe.”
Anybody Here Seen Frenchie? boasts a fully-fleshed supporting cast, as well. From the teaching aide with a mile-wide compassion streak to a local softball coach with a knack for all things outdoors, to the grouchy pie-delivery man and a thrift-loving woman with a bit of car trouble, this patchwork of personalities rival’s Because of Winn-Dixie’s unforgettable, interconnected cast. Aurora believes that few folks around town ever really paid attention to Frenchie, but soon discovers that her “bird-loving, no-talk, very best friend” has settled in more hearts than she ever could’ve guessed.
Leslie Connor’s masterclass of story-telling is perfect for lessons in understanding, for teaching the value of slowing down and paying attention to others rather than racing ahead. Come on up to this little town in Maine, and see how one boy left an incredible impact on strangers… all without uttering a single word.