Bink & Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

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Our students are only a few days into their summer vacations, but I’m somewhat tempted to call a few 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders back for a special session. These young fans of Bink & Gollie have to see the second installment of this wonderful new series of early readers: Bink & Gollie: Two For One. The two friends are opposites in almost every way. Gollie is tall. Bink is short. Gollie is hesitant. Bink is bold. They are both such likable characters that when I closed the book, I wondered what each girl would be like when they reached high school. If nothing else, I was certain they would remain best friends.

The illustrations by Tony Fucile are cheerful and touching. The last two page spread of the state fair made my throat catch a bit. It felt fleeting – like summer, childhood and state fairs.

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Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

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Since it’s Halloween, I’m writing about a book that can truly be considered a “treat.”  Like most children’s librarians, I consider anything written by Kate DiCamillo to be an automatic purchase and so when I heard about this new easy reader book, I ordered it sight unseen.  I knew by the cover that I was going to love it.  As I expected, it’s so wonderful that I wish I could put it in every child’s (under 10) trick-or-treat bag tonight.  Bink and Gollie are friends, but like Rat and Mole (The Wind in the Willows) or Toot and Puddle, they are opposites.  Gollie is tall and logical.  Bink is small and whimsical.  The illustrations by Tony Fucile capture their personalities with energy and humor.

This exchange between the two friends captures their differing styles:

It’s a sock bonanza!” said Bink.

“Indeed it is,” said Gollie. “An extremely bright sock bonanza.”

“I’ll take this pair,” said Bink.

“Bink,” said Gollie, “the brightness of those socks pains me. I beg you not to purchase them.”

“I can’t wait to put them on,” said Bink.

“I love socks,” said Bink.

“Some socks are more lovable than others,” said Gollie.

The Peanuts gang came also to mind when reading this book.  In three connected stories, there are no adults present.  At first I looked for one of the girl’s parents, but then I loved the fact that I had to suspend my own logical/Gollie tendencies and just go along for the ride.  As Gollie says, some socks are more lovable than others, and the same is true for books. Bink & Gollie is more lovable than many of them.

Anticipation…

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The Snow DayMy passion for books, reading, libraries and bookstores began when I was very young.  One of my most vivid memories is of a bookstore that was on the bottom floor of a small shopping center where my family would sometimes go because they had a nicer grocery store.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed and excited at the prospect of all of those books in one place.  I wanted them all—regardless of what they were about or if I could read them.  Sometimes I would have to step out of the store for a minute because I could truly feel myself hyperventilating.  How would I ever have time to read all of them!  Can I just live here!

I’ve calmed down (a little) since those days.  But when I visit a particularly wonderful store for the first time, I stand there a bit paralyzed—planning my route so that nothing will be missed.

The only sensation that comes close to my childhood memories of the bookstore  is a couple of times a year when The New York Times Book Review dedicates a whole section devoted to children’s books.  My husband announces its arrival as he brings the paper in and I quickly pull it out—without looking!  That’s key.  I need to wait until the perfect moment to look.  It can’t be when there is laundry to do or papers to grade.  I can literally “feel it” all day as I move through my tasks.  I love knowing it is there.  Especially this one.  The issue in November that announces the NYT choice for the 10 best illustrated books of the year.

So, I looked—but only at the back cover where, to my surprise, the best picture books were featured.  I could be wrong, but I think this is the first year the selections are on the back.  Usually, they are on the center spread over two pages.  Ummm….a little strange.  Good selections, but I miss the larger pictures that could be featured over two pages.  I can only comment on this part of the insert because it’s all I’ve looked at.  Really.  I still have a few things to do and it’s getting late, so the rest will have to wait until tomorrow—something to look forward to!

I love all of the selections and am happy to see that they are all books in the Inly Library collection.  And the one I was most crossing my fingers for is there—The Snow Day by Komako Sakai.  It is such an incredibly beautiful book.  The pictures make me kind of hurt because they are so gentle and cozy.  And, of course, Only A Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee and Moonshop by Brian Floca are there.  The little witch in McGhee’s book (illustrated by Taeeun Yoo) looks like she stepped out of a farmhouse in the mid-1900s.  I know it’s a Halloween book, but I’m hopeful McGhee and Yoo collaborate on the rest of the holidays.