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Bink & Gollie is one of those books I picked up in a second hand book shop purely on instinct. I was aware of Kate Di Camillo through her book The Tale of Desperaux, but had never heard of Alison McGee. The book looked too picture book like for my children frankly, but I was just drawn to it and decided to take a risk.

I’m so glad I did.

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I absolutely loved this book. It is set out as three short stories, but is illustrated in a kind of graphic novel style by Tony Fucile, who was previously responsible for some of the graphics for The Incredibles film.

The language is rather sophisticated for a picture book. Gollie likes to use long, complex words, but there is such a playfulness about the book, and there aren’t too many words at all that it might be the perfect book for a child you really want to push in terms of vocabulary.

The stories are about everyday adventures made magical by the two central characters. Gollie is the oldest, tall, knowing, somewhat sophisticated. Bink looks like an exploding baby chick, and is absolutely full of enthusiasm for everything. They live in a crazy tree house, and I initially thought they might be sisters, but the stories suggest that they are actually best friends, although there is no reason why they couldn’t be both, I suppose.

Each story is short, and has very little dialogue. What there is is funny, witty and joyous to read. There are lots of wonderful details in the illustrations, including signage, that extend the scope and humour of the stories.

In the first story Bink wants to go and buy some bright coloured socks and Gollie is unconvinced. In the second, Gollie wants some alone time in her room to do some travelling, and Bink is unconvinced. In the third story Bink buys a goldfish which Gollie has issues with.

They are something and nothing, these stories, and yet they lay out simply and with utter charm, the nuts and bolts of the deep friendship between the two girls.

The story, although about girls, is pretty gender neutral, and would work for boys and girls. I would recommend it as a story to read and share with children from the age of four, and for children to tackle themselves from the age of seven. I suspect it would be getting too juvenile by the age of ten.

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