Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Best Friends! Bink & Gollie by Kate Di Camillo and Alison McGhee

"Hel-lo, Gollie," said Bink. "Do I smell pancakes?"

"You do NOT," said Gollie.

"Will I smell pancakes?" said Bink.

"Perhaps a compromise is in order, Bink," said Gollie.

"What's a compromise?" said Bink.

"Use your gray matter, Bink," said Gollie. "You remove your outrageous socks and I will make pancakes."

"The trouble with Gollie," said Bink "is that it's either Gollie's way or the highway."

"My socks and I have chosen the highway."

Bink and Gollie are the most unlikely of friends. When their mutual desire for speed take them on a roller skating spree one morning, the expedition ends in Bink's sudden urge for thigh-high polka-dot socks in ultra-bright colors--a style which deeply offends Gollie's conservative dress code. But best friends usually find a way, and the girls eventually do: Bink wears one outrageous sock to Gollie's pancake brunch, and Gollie flies the other, like a banner, from the gable of her ultra-modern hilltop home.

Newbery author Kate DiCamillo (winner for such disparate titles as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread has created a delightful young odd couple in her brand-new beginning chapter book, Bink and Gollie (Junior Library Guild Selection (Candlewick Press)) (Candlewick, 2010), set off perfectly by the offbeat cartoon-style illustrations of Tony Fucille, who delineates wildly opposite characters by making them physical opposites as well--Bink a stubby, rumpled and eager take-it-as-it-comes sort and Gollie an elongated, supercilious snob whose universe is obviously constrained by her own self-imposed rules. The two opposites obviously attract, and each proves in the three stories of this little book that the pull of friendship tops personal preferences every time.

In story two, Gollie posts an imposing sign on her door:


"I'm puzzled," said Bink. "Am I WHOM?"

In Fucille's illustrations that follow, we see Gollie on a fantasy climb of the Andes, struggling up a vertical cliff face and determinedly planting Bink's sock pennant on the peak, while Bink returns over and over to knock on the forbidden door. At last Bink, apparently worried about her friend's nutrition, appears with a stack of peanut butter sandwiches, and the suddenly famished Gollie invites Bink to share a picnic with her on her imagined mountaintop.

The final story begins with Bink proudly selecting her new pet, the perfect companion--a goldfish named Fred. Gollie is jealous.

"Bink," said Gollie, "I must inform you that you are giving a home to a most truly unremarkable fish. Furthermore," said Gollie, "that fish is incapable of being a wonderful companion."

But when Bink insists that Fred the fish yearns for speed as they do, she resolutely sets off on a roller skating expedition with Fred, bowl and all, on Gollie's heels. Still grumpy, Gollie speeds ahead. Predictably, Bink hits a bump and Fred's bowl flies through the air and breaks with a splatter.

And as Bink watches in helpless dismay, Gollie calmly picks up the flopping Fred and dashes through the woods, arriving at a pond to return Fred to the water just in time to save his life. Bink is nearly speechless with amazement and gratitude at her friend's quick thinking, and the final illustrative spread shows the two friends, months later, skating speedily across the pond, with the faithful Fred following them under the ice.

As Robert Frost said, "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in," and of Bink and Gollie it could be said that true friends are the ones who already know what you need even when you don't. As Publishers Weekly says, "Think Pippi Longstocking meets The Big Bang Theory, and you'll have a good idea of the mood and quirky heroines of this first entry in what promises to be a wholly original chapter book series."

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  • Thank you so much for your nice review. I agree with you, DiCamillo's book cover a very broad range.

    We also have a website dedicated to Bink and Gollie! FYI

    By Blogger Raquel, at 2:07 PM  

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