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Bink and Gollie

By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

Illustrated by Tony Fucile

Reviewed by Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for:  Both boys and girls, age 5 to 8. Though the main characters of the book are girls, the content is completely gender neutral.

One Word Summary: Dear.

A match made in Rusty Key heaven, Alison McGhee (author of the Golden Key Collection honoree, the Julia Gillian series) and Kate DiCamillo (author of the Golden Key Collection honorees, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Tiger Rising) teamed up to create Bink and Gollie, a spunky, whimsical, tender little book, brought to life by the unfathomably adorable illustrations by Tony Fucile.

The book contains three episodes, snapshots really, of the complicated, yet symbiotic friendship between Bink and Gollie. Gollie’s a little older, a little wiser, yet a bit stifled by her own maturity. Bink seems to be

younger, more outgoing, but her tendency to dive head first into things often lands her in sticky situations. The two (and this is my favorite part) live in what appear to be separate condos built into a gigantic, old tree. Bink’s cottage is nestled into the tree’s base, looking very much like Rabbit’s borrow in the Whinnie the Pooh books, and Gollie’s home, perched in the upper branches, is more akin to a modern beach front property that you might find in Miami or Santa Monica. Whatever the reason these two children live this way is an explanation not required, because it’s much more fun to imagine all the things they could get up to in their own little apartments than it is to wonder where the parents are.  Each of the stories features Bink and Gollie butting heads in one way or another, then finding ways to compromise, and appreciating the others’ differences all the more for it.

As an avid reader of both these authors, it’s so much fun to spot elements of each ones style peaking through (McGhee’s playful word choices, DiCamillo’s poignant brevity). In their own work,

both authors are keenly skilled in the art of leaving certain things unsaid, and here is where Fucile steps up to the plate filing in the silence with pictures that speak volumes, reminiscent of some of the more imaginative and sentimental Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. But the pictures also add a lovely sort of lonely feeling to this world. While the girls are in full color, the backgrounds are all a bleachy white, black and gray, devoid of other people for as far as the eye can see, aside from the occasional, indifferent shop keeper. Coupled with the fact that these girls do live in tandem, yet alone, their friendship is made all the more vital, and the importance of their ability to get along that much more essential. In turning the final page, a beautiful yet stark winter landscape, Bink and Gollie holding hands as they skate across a frozen pond, one can’t help but feel profoundly happy that they have one another. And we at the Rusty Key have yet another reason to be profoundly happy that we have Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee....You know come to think of it, Bink and Gollie look awfully familiar...

DiCamillo and McGhee

Bink and Gollie


© Jordan B. Nielsen, 2012