Title: Sam & Dave Dig A Hole
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Awards: 2015 Caldecott Honor Book
Summary: Sam and Dave (who appear to be brothers, but are at least related) dig a hole one Monday in search of something spectacular. The illustrations reveal that the boys are close to large gems at several points in their dig, but do not continue far enough or in the correct direction to hit the gems. Their dog, like the reader, however, can sense something below the surface and points to the gems several times. Just as the boys give up and fall asleep in the ground, the dog finds a bone and digs ever deeper, causing all three to fall a long way back to the front yard of their house. Deciding that the dig and the fall were spectacular enough, they go inside for some chocolate milk and animal cookies.
Commentary: The play between the pictures and the words is no doubt what earned this book a Caldecott nod. Young readers will be entertained by what the boys are not seeing in the dirt despite the dog’s desperate hints. I have to wonder about the ending of this book, however. It reminds me of the ending to Where the Wild Things Are where Max sails back into his bedroom to eat his supper. Are the readers to surmise that the hole was an exaggerated play idea and the depth we see is how far down Sam and Dave imagine they have gone? It seems more plausible than the alternative, certainly, but for some reason I wanted to buy into the idea of an actual hole until the last few pages. Either way, it’s a fun little read in the same vein of Rosie’s Walk.