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Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo (yes, of Despereaux fame), Alison McGhee, and Tony Fucile was our FAVORITE picture book of 2010. Nathan loves the comic-like structure of the books, and the way that the pictures are often allowed to narrate the action. I love that Bink and Gollie are ordinary girls. They aren’t princesses. Or superheroes. Or even pigs with long ears, big mouths, and impressive wardrobes. They’re just girls, and they’re just best friends.

So when a friend who works at Candlewick Press scammed Lucy an ARC of the sequel, Bink and Gollie: Two for One, I squealed a little, fawned a lot, and thanked profusely. (And then, like a nut, I pre-ordered the hardback because, seriously, the ARC is not going to stand up to the kind of wear it’ll get around here.) Two for One pubbed yesterday, and it’s well worth $15.99 of your children’s-book budget. Bink, a short, round, blonde ball of energy, and her best friend, brunette, well-spoken, slim Gollie, go to the state fair. There, they lose at Whack-a-Duck (though, boy, that carny running the game gets the worst of it), work through a mild case of stage fright, and have their fortunes told.

As in the first book, it’s not the situations themselves that make this book charming, though there’s plenty of cheap physical humor for easy laughs. Not only are Bink and Gollie ordinary girl characters, but they have an ordinary little-girl best-friendship. Their friendship isn’t without its hiccups (“It’s a compromise bonanza!” Bink declares in the first book), but it’s a stronger friendship for those hiccups. When Bink beans the carny, Gollie’s there to support her. When Gollie opens and closes her mouth like a fish instead of bursting forth with talent at the amateur talent show, Bink drags her out of there to an impromptu, audience-of-one talent show in a neighboring barn. Naturally, when the girls have their fortunes told, their futures are, “without question,” intertwined.

It’s hard work to raise a little girl. It’s even harder work to raise one who’s not some kind of princess-pink-vomiting Gossip Girl-Mean Girl drone. Lucy’s a little young yet for Bink and Gollie, but it’s the kind of book I’ll keep reading to her and putting in her hands as she grows. Ordinary girls deserve good friendships, good role models, and good books. Bink and Gollie: Two for One is one of the good ones.