Meet Bink & Gollie
By Jules


"I don't think either Kate or I knew what we were doing when we decided to write a book together, but it turned out to be so dang much fun. We went into the project wanting to write about two friends, one tall, one short (no surprises there), and we tossed them a sock just to see what they'd do with it. And the whole thing went from there."—Author Alison McGhee on Bink & Gollie, co-authored with Kate DiCamillo.

See above? Meet Bink. Meet Gollie. They are the stars of one of the best books I've seen in all of 2010, written, as noted above, by Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Tony Fucile, and soon to be on bookstore and library shelves from Candlewick (mid-September publication date, I believe). That above quote comes from a brief chat I had with Alison recedntly when I asked her about the creation of this little gem.

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I knew I wanted to do a post about these guys and show you some art from the book. I even had one of those spirited "have you SEEN this great book yet?" conversations with Betsy Bird, who of course had seen it and was all, "yes, it's so blazingly good, isn't it?" (I might be throwing in "blazingly," due to my SEVERE and OBSCENE love of hyperbole. That is not an exact quote.) Well, I saw yesterday that she up and did one of her gloriously mega-detailed reviews of it. As I read it, I realized this post was going to become one of those in which I send you to her blog to read about the book. At the risk of appearing lazy, I do this on account of how she covers EVERYthing over there, every little reason-and there are many-that this book works and why it is, in her words, "the best thing ever." She added, "And what's more, it's a book like nothing else you've ever seen. Nothing. Ever. Seen. Trust me on this one. I see a lot of books." Here's a bit more from her review (which, conveniently, includes a summary of what you get with this book):

Put together two Minnesotans and one animator and what do you get? Bink and Gollie, of course. Bink is a diminutive pixie, all wild blond hair and a penchant for falling madly in love with things. Gollie, in contrast, is a staid and measured companion, unwilling to be pulled into Bink's obsessions if she can possibly help it. The two are best friends and in this book we are treated to three of their adventures. In the first, Bink falls head over heels for a pair of brightly colored socks that irk Gollie to the extreme. A compromise must be reached. In the second tale Gollie is determined to scale the heights of the Andes Mountains in her living room but finds it difficult to do so when Bink keeps knocking on her front door. In the third, Bink becomes enamored of a goldfish. Gollie cannot see its appeal, but when a terrible accident occurs she's the one who knows exactly what to do. If you seek marvelous companions, look no further than the tales you'll find here.

Betsy goes on to point out the following (yes, I'm always talking up her blog, but did I mention how wonderfully detailed her reviews are?): the wonderful writing; the rings-so-true tone of the three tales; the chemistry between the two characters and how it makes them one of the great pairings of children's lit, à la Frog and Toad; the distinct characterizations; how these girls are allowed to do things that traditionally boys do in children's literature (hey, McGhee and DiCamillo: bonus points for that!); their adult-free universe, as depicted with great style by Fucile; the book's capacity for great poignancy, also done with a lot of help from Fucile; and much more.

Here are some spreads from the book, in which Tony Fucile proves his brilliance:

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"'I love socks,' said Bink. 'Some socks are more lovable than others,' said Gollie."
(Click to enlarge. It'll be well worth your time, I promise.)

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“‘I cannot talk right now,’ said Gollie. ‘Why not?’ said Bink. ‘Because,’ said Gollie, ‘I am high in the pure air of the Andes Mountains.’ ‘All righty, then,’ said Bink. (Click to enlarge)

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Betsy also writes in that review, "There's something about this book that utterly defies any and all expectations. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be hypnotized by the sheer charm of these stories. All we can do now is own it, give it to all the small children we know, and clamor to the creators like little Oliver Twist parrots. Please m'ams and sirs . . . we'd like some more!"  As to that part about small children, I have to add: When I first read this book, my six-year-old was with me. I'm not likely to forget this moment, and that would be because we proceeded to laugh very, very hard. As in, we had to put the book down and just laugh uncontrollably on more than one occasion. I think it's safe to say we were giving each other looks that said: Could this perfect little creation be FOR REAL? Could it be any funnier? The six-year-old wanted to immediately read it again. And look for a web site (which a zippy-quick moment of searching proved is to-come http://binkandgollie.com/). And read further adventures. And...And....And. It is a sure-fire hit with kids.

I love this from Publishers Weekly: "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."

It's not to be missed. Others who read it and enjoy it as much, please do come back and let's gab about it.

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BINK AND GOLLIE. Text copyright (c) 2010 by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrations copyright (c) 2010 by Tony Fucile. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * Jules' Kicks * *
Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things

1). I attended a fundraising event for the upcoming Southern Festival of Books at this wonderful brewery, who gave us all a tour. I'm tellin' ya, this place represents just about everything good about locally-owned businesses. They simply rock.

2). My four-year-old and I visited a librarian at this Vanderbilt library and it was the first time I met her face-to-face. (We had first met via email-slash-the Facebook world.) You know how when you meet someone for the first time and you just KNOW, she is one of my people. Yup. That. We instantly clicked.

3). If you're friends with Steven Withrow, he'll just randomly send you his gorgeous original poetry. One of those from this week is posted at his blog. Enjoy.

4). We're planning one of those excessively suburban'y, all-American trips to Disney World, a place I've yet to visit in my life and a trip for which we've saved and saved. (And we figure our wee girls will explode from happiness and that we'll be picking up pieces of them at the park.) Anyway. Realizing they didn't have suitcases, we got them some this week. I found this note one morning taped to the side of the six-year-old's. (On the other side is a note that says, "HASTA LA VISTA, KITTYS.")

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(I'm intrigued by the whole Cinderella part of the drawing, as she doesn't particularly care for that movie and thinks Cinderella, along with pretty much every other princess but Tiana, needs to "get a job.")

5). Remember this post? Check out this great NBC video all about Renée and Shadra's book.

6). HA. Just HA. It's German director Werner Herzog reading/interpreting Madeline as only he can. "In truth, children are next door to sociopaths."

7). Last but not least: I love this site from Lou Beach (who is also an illustrator).