Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bink & Gollie

After reading so many rave reviews of Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, I had to see what the fuss was about. Not yet having the book in hand, I couldn't imagine why everyone was so excited. Two girls, one tall, one short, who in the first story buy a pair of socks? Come on, pull the other one.

Then I read the book. Aah, now I see. So I'll add my bucket of praise to the oceans already out there. Bink & Gollie is a wonderful, wonderful book, destined to become a children's classic. DiCamillo, a Newbery award winner, and McGhee, a NY Times bestselling author, have created two winning characters based loosely on themselves. Bink (DiCamillo) is the short one, the down-to-earth one, who lives in a cottage at the base of a giant tree. At the top of the tree, in a modernistic treehouse, lives Gollie. More cerebral than Bink, Gollie speaks with precision and a rather formal syntax. There is a whiff of superiority about her, no doubt caused from living in rarified air among the treetops.

Somewhere between an early reader and a beginning chapter book, Bink & Gollie is 96 pages long and divided into three stand-alone stories. The first concerns socks. While out rollerskating, the girls come across a store having a sale on socks. Not just any socks, but outrageously bright socks. Bink buys herself a pair, and Gollie is mortified. The mere sight of them offends her. After a tiff between the friends, the pair learn the joys of compromise.

The second story involves Gollie's adventure climbing the Andes (in her imagination) while Bink tries her best to wangle her way inside her friend's abode. The final chapter deals with jealousy. Bink buys a pet fish, and Gollie resents him. When the trio are out rollerskating, a near tragedy occurs, but Gollie saves the day (and the fish), and Bink reassures her that she, not Fred the Fish, is the most marvelous companion of all.

No review of this book can be considered complete without mentioning the art. Tony Fucile adds so much to the characters of Bink and Gollie. Bink has a shock of blond hair, giving her an impish charm, while Gollie's lanky body language speaks volumes. The background is usually in black and white with the girls and a few objects (like the socks) highlighted in color. Little wonder this book made the NY Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010.

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