Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

binkBink & Gollie is three separate stories about two best friends, Bink & Gollie, and their adventures. The first story is about Bink getting outrageous rainbow colored socks that Gollie can’t stand and then the two of them learning to compromise. The second story is about Bink’s desire to go on a adventure because it’s been too long since her last one. Bink places a sign on the door, asking for no interruptions as she climbs the Andes mountains. Once she’s achieved her goal, Bink realizes triumphs are better shared with friends and invites Gollie to join her. The last story is about Gollie adopting a fish, taking him everywhere with him, and then tripping and almost loosing him. It is Bink who saves the day and places the fish in the pond, telling Gollie that she is most marvelous companion of all.

The illustrations in the book draw the eye directly to Bink and Gollie. Their world is white-washed with very little colors outside of their characters. The only color comes in when Bink and Gollie interact with a person or thing. The girls bring color and happiness in an otherwise drab world. Their imaginations fill the spaces on the pages. Gollie lives in a ginormous, impossible tree house. Her house looks like a typical house inside and out, but it’s perched in a tree. Gollie’s adventure to the Andes mountain is entirely in her imagination.

Bink & Gollie is recommended for kindergarten through third grade. This is the perfect book to bridge the gap between early readers and chapter books. It is longer than typical early readers, but there are not enough words for the book to be considered a chapter book. There are some pages where there are no words at all. It is ideal for a younger child who may read at a higher level but is having difficulty finding age appropriate books. On the opposite end, it is a great option for an older reader who may not be struggling with reading. The books does feature vocabulary words that children aren’t likely to know like “implore” and the concept of compromising and “gray matter.” Bink tells Gollie to use her “gray matter” when she wants the younger child to think.

The book will probably appeal more strongly to girls than boys simply because the main characters are girls, but beyond gender, the book can hold almost universal appeal. Because of the striking illustrations, the length of the book, the vocabulary, and it’s position as a transition book between early readers and chapter books.

Awards:
Kiddo Award, 2011 Nominee Best Transitional Book United States
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2010 United Statesundefined
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, 2011 Winner United States

Bibliographic Information:
DiCamillo, Kate, Alison McGhee, and Tony Fucile. Bink & Gollie. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2010. Print.

Readalikes:
The other books in the Bink & Gollie series
Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
Ling & Ting by Grace Lin
Ivy & Bean series by Annie Barrows

 

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Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

driveLet’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems tells the story of Gerald the elephant and Piggie as they plan a drive. Elephant keeps thinking of everything they need–a map, sunglasses, umbrellas, bags–for a drive and Piggie has all the items they need until… they realize they don’t have a car! What ever are they doing to do now? Once again, Piggie has the solution: they will play pirates!

The book is considered an early reader/early concept book though it definitely geared toward the upper end of that. However, both children not reading on their own and very proficient readers will enjoy this book. It does teach many concepts, like planning for a trip. Children will most likely not realize what goes into planning a drive and can beginning learning to plan for a day out. Additionally, all the things they need for a trip help teach concepts about sunshine, rain, and making a plan. The sentences are rather short and illustrations are adorable with muted colors and lots of white spaces.

The words themselves are very catchy as part of it is made into a song. After each item is retrieved. Gerald and Piggie sing “Drive! Drive! Drivey-drive-drive! and then the item they got in the same pattern like “Umbrellas! Umbrellas! Umbrelly-umbrellas!” Having a pattern and tone of the words that begs to be sung, helps learning readers to recognize the words and letters. Even those who are not independent readers yet would benefit from this book to help with pattern recognition and aid in helping to learn letters and words.

Beyond any educational benefit, the book is simply adorable. Elephants reactions when he thinks of another item they need are exaggerated and perfect for little ones. And ultimately, the lesson of the book is not that things need to planned. The lesson is that anything, even ruined plans, can be the best of fun as long your best pal is with you. With a little imagination, you can go anywhere.

The book is recommended for preschoolers to grade two.

Awards:
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, 2013 Honor Book United States

Readalikes:
Any other book in the Elephant and Piggie series
Cat, Cat, Who is that? by Mo Willems
Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
Up, Tall, and High (but necessarily in that order) by Ethan Long

Bibliographic Information:
Willems, Mo. Let’s Go for a Drive! New York: Hyperion for Children, 2012. Print.