Review Blog

Nov 13 2014

Sam and Dave dig a hole by Mac Barnett

cover image

Ill. by Jon Klassen. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781406357769
(Age: 5+) Warmly recommended. Endeavour. Friendship. Quest. One day Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole. They set out with shovels and the dog, and begin their work to find something spectacular. They dig and dig, eventually digging a hole that is over their heads needing to stop for a break to drink their chocolate milk and animal biscuits. They decide to go sideways. Later they decide to split up and join later. Just when they are tired out, the dog digs, sensing a bone nearby and the trio falls down deeper and deeper until they are back in their garden.
The illustrations tell the story of their near misses, as they bypass large exciting looking precious stones time and time again. The little dog senses something is nearby but the boys keep on digging, taking no notice of his actions. Children will love watching the dog and the near misses, calling out to the boys in the story telling them what they cannot see. The mystery behind their quest and their attempts to find something spectacular will speak volumes to younger readers for whom adventures are what they have everyday. The fun of trying to find something wonderful drives them on, their dog with them, spectacularly more aware than they.
For children learning the concept of down and up, as well as sideways, this book is a treat, bringing in the idea of adventures, hidden gems and striving for something out of reach. The illustrations are magnificent, brown swathes of watercolour fill the page, with white patches contrasting with the colour of the earth. Astute younger readers will ponder the small differences between the last pages and those at the beginning of the book, and laugh out loud at the antics of the boy and the all knowing dog.
Fran Knight

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