Sam & Dave dig a hole by Mac Barnett , illustrated by Jon Klassen has been getting lots of good press and being a fan of Jon Klassen (see I want my hat back and This is not my hat) I was eager to read it.
And, now it has finally arrived in the Doucette Library.
I can remember wanting to dig to China when I was very young and thought it was on the other side of the world, having no clue as what that entailed geographically speaking. I could be there in no time – a mere morning of digging and I’d be there. An early desire to see more of the world foreshadowed here, perhaps.
And this ties into the premise of this picture book. Two boys and a dog, decide to dig a hole. Which they do. But when do they stop? They are on a mission and won’t stop until they find something ‘spectacular’.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? I wonder how far they’ll have to dig? I wonder what they’ll discover?
The reader’s anticipation is tapped into as we’re allowed to ‘see’ what the boys are almost about to uncover – but then don’t! ARGH! Don’t you just hate when that happens? The wryness of the text with the deadpan expressions of the characters all play into the understated humour of the story.
However, the dog who must have extra super-dooper, spidey senses, does seem to know where the treasures are -- showing us the potential for success. The boys who blithely go about their digging business are oblivious to the dog’s extrasensory perception.
So, down and down and down they go, missing several increasingly large-sized diamonds along the way, strategizing as they go (change directions, splitting up) and hoping that soon they’ll strike the mother lode.
Where will it all ends?
This isn't so clear cut as it may seem. The ambiguous ending leaves us guessing as to whether the boys have dug themselves back home or if they've fallen into an almost exact replica of home, some kind of alternative universe, maybe.
It’s easy to enjoy this gem, which is all the better for not having to dig even one spade’s worth of dirt.
Recommended for grades K to 3.