Authors: Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee
Illustrator: Tony Fucile
Bink & Gollie are the best of friends, and they love doing stuff together–especially rollerskating! But the truth is, they don’t agree on a lot of other things. Gollie thinks Bink can be garish and annoying. Bink thinks Gollie is stuffy and boring. It’s way too easy to fight over stuff like that. But in spite of all that, it’s still more fun when they’re together . . . and thus, a compromise is in order.
Too fun! I think if you somehow combined the best of Dr. Seuss and Beverly Cleary, you might get something similar to Bink & Gollie. This is a straightforward, imaginative, funny story of friendship in spite of differences of opinion. And it certainly is funny–these two girls are pretty zany to be sure. This is a quick read, only three chapters (short stories, really) long, with basically an “easy-reader” level of difficulty. So it’s great for beginning readers, although I think the story surpasses the reading level and would be great for older readers as well. Plus the art is great–full of humor and expression. I really love the use of greys and colors to create mood and focus. I would definitely recommend Bink & Gollie–much fun.
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: K. G. Campbell
Flora is a cynic who thinks the romance novels her mom writes are unrealistic, but who loves the superhero comics feature The Great Incandesto. When Flora’s neighbor accidentally vacuums (yes, vacuums) an innocent squirrel, things get . . . interesting. The (previously normal) squirrel begins exhibiting what can only be called extraordinary abilities. Super-squirrel strength. Flying. Writing poetry. Naturally, Flora names him (Ulysses) and takes him home. I mean, what could be better than having a real-life superhero around?
If Kate DiCamillo has written it, read it. That’s my personal philosophy. Everything she writes is wonderful, and Flora & Ulysses is no exception. It’s a great story, full of poetry, complicated human relationships, interesting characters, unique perspectives on life. Plus a squirrel’s-eye view of the world. Ulysses himself is fantastic–full of poetry, love for Flora, and a HUGE appetite. I love the approach DiCamillo and Campbell took with the illustrations; actually laying out some chapters and chapter sections as if they were comics is inventive and works well with Flora’s love of (and frequent references to) comics. Flora & Ulysses is a funny, adorable, touching story that comes with high recommendations.
Editor/Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
My rating: 5 of 5
The basic premise behind this fantastic collection of short stories is nearly as odd as the stories themselves. Supposedly, a person calling himself Harris Burdick came to editor Peter Wenders sometime around 25 years ago, dropping off a collection of 14 drawings with titles and one-line descriptions. This Burdick then left, promising to bring the accompanying stories the next day, only to never return. In The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, a group of incredible authors take these illustrations and create the stories that might have accompanied them.
Whatever the truth about Harris Burdick and his illustrations may be, this is an excellent collection of stories from a brilliant group of writers. In keeping with the concepts of the illustrations there is an eerie, Twilight Zone sort of feel to the stories. Mostly, they’re about fairly ordinary people to whom some extraordinary events occur. There is a spine-tingling quality to these stories that is simply delicious. Anyone who likes the unusual, or who simply likes short stories, should check out this creative collection.
Featured Authors: Sherman Alexie, M. T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Chris Van Allsburg, & Lemony Snicket