And this is where Bird's writing about the book really helped me to understand the brilliance of this book. As Betsy Bird says of the illustrations, "Because, you see, while madams DiCamillo and McGhee give these girls their very particular, very distinctive voices, it is Mr. Fucile who makes you fall in love with them." She goes on to write,
One is left wondering to what extent Mr. Fucile came up with the book’s details and to what extent he created them out of his own brain. Was he told to give the Eccles’ Empire of Enchantment that particular air of treasure hunting mixed with a tinge of despair? Was he told that Bink was a creature of peanut butter and to add that element in when appropriate while Gollie belonged squarely on the pancake side of things? Was he instructed that rather than cell phones, Bink and Gollie use white cordless landlines? Was he asked to make Bink’s scarf at the end of the book the second bright sock purchased at thebeginningof the book? And on top of all that he includes little things you might not notice except on a fourth or fifth read. When Gollie decides to give Bink half her pancakes, notice that she gave Bink the much taller stack. And when a besotted Bink agrees to hang out with Gollie, she is holding her phone out so that Fred the fish can hear the news as well.
I 've often wondered this myself about the author/illustrator relationship and maybe, like sausage, it's better not to know exactly how these things are made. But, I do feel that an artist with Mr Fucile's background (he is an animator for PIXAR and has a long list of credits on his imdb page...) does contribute a significant amount to the development of the characters in books that he illustrates (Let's Do Nothing and Mitchell's License) and he makes these characters and the world that they live in very, very charming. But, let's talk about the stories!
With Bink & Gollie : Two for One, we find the friends at the State Fair, just in time for summer! Whack a Duck, You're Special, Aren't You and Without Question make up the three stories in this new book. Having read this book first, it was such a treat to watch my son's face as he read the first story in which Bink tries to win the World's Largest Donut by knocking ducks over with a baseball. Bink's wind-up (which gets a two page spread) is hilarious and, as you may have guessed, she does not have good aim. Fucile's illustration of the carnival worker and his reaction after being beaned by Bink is priceless, had my son in stitches and was a fantastic flashback to the Looney Tunes of my youth. Bink throws all three balls and, while she doesn't win the World's Biggest Donut, she does buy three bags of mini-donuts that she and Gollie share with the duck man. You're Special, Aren't You finds Gollie entering the talent show and Bink finding a very sweet solution to her stage fright. In the final story, the girls visit Madame Prunely for a look into the crystal ball. As with Bink & Gollie, DiCamillo and McGhee bring their story back around to the sweet, wonderful friendship that exists between these two characters. I hope that this fantastic trio can create a few more books with these winning characters!