Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

Sam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett

Some covers draw you into the book. Here we have Sam and Dave-intrepid explorers, faithful dog with them, a curious cat, and an apple tree. Dear readers keep in mind the apple tree. The hole is deep, straight-sided; not a messy affair, with stones and rocks poking out at awkward angles and mud clods falling to the bottom, as holes generally are. No. This hole seems like a cylindrical scooper scooped out a whole pile of dirt and placed Sam, Dave and faithful dog in there.

Why? we wonder. "Because we are on a mission," said Dave. "We won't stop digging until we find something spectacular."

So they dig. And dig. There they are on the third spread, underground already, but "they still hadn't found anything spectacular." If only they pay attention to faithful dog! They dig deeper still. They are digging down, dog is on his hind legs looking up. There is curious cat on the surface looking at the dog. Is she trying to send them a message: look where the dog is looking? Is she sympathizing with the dog, because he HAS found something spectacular, but they are not paying attention to him?

This is one of those rare books where words and pictures march hand in hand. Where the pictures pick up the words and say "Look readers. This is what the words are telling you. Aren't they making an amazing story?"

That spectacular something goes by. In the past now. Sam and Dave are tired. Maybe a change of direction, says Dave. Oh just look in the direction faithful dog is looking, Sam and Dave. Dave leads, Sam follows along. So they split up and go in opposite directions. The spectacular something lies straight down, but they are NOT digging straight down. Are they going to miss it again? We'll have to turn the page to find out. What perfect pacing. What perfect page turns.

Missed again. Another spectacular something goes by. They are running low on their resources. They are getting dustier. For the first time Sam speaks up. "Dave I am tired. I cannot dig anymore." So they decide to rest. Look at that spread again. Is faithful dog tired and resting too? He smells(?) his own spectacular something straight down. Faithful dog can now dig in the direction he wants; that bone is calling loud and clear.

Sam and Dave, looking like two soot-covered coal miners, are fast asleep. What do sleeping people do? They fall (shades of Alice in Wonderland).

Sam and Dave fell down, (and dog with them)



until they landed in the soft dirt.

Where are they? All the way through the earth and out on the other side? Look at the last three spreads dear reader. Same but different. Same portico, same cat. But different wind vane, different potted plant and different collar on the cat. And remember the apple tree in the first spread? Well it has somehow morphed into a pear tree. Do you think they are in an alternate reality??

"Well," said Sam.

"Well," said Dave. "That was pretty spectacular."

That would be pretty spectacular indeed.

Our satisfied explorers go in for another round of milk and cookies. Cat gives faithful dog a level-eyed measuring look. Dog looks at her questioningly. He has his bone.

God's in His heaven-

All's right with the world!

Title: Sam and Dave Dig A Hole

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Hardback: 36 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6229-5