Title: Sam & Dave Dig A Hole
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publishers and Year: Candlewick Press, 2014
Number of pages: 36
In Sam & Dave Dig A Hole, two young boys decide, after digging a small hole, to continue digging until they find something spectacular. Throughout the story, the readers watch as the two young boys unknowingly pass up many hidden treasures. The story ends when the two boys, tired from a full day of digging, fall asleep. Their dog, after smelling a bone hidden beneath the surface, continues to dig until they are all falling and land back on solid ground.
This book serves as a door for its audience. Through the adventures and determination of Sam and Dave, the reader is able see the benefits of determination and perseverance. Both Sam and Dave would have missed out on an incredible adventure had they been willing to settle with their miniature hole. As they continued on, however, they passed diamonds and other treasures in the soil. This gives the reader a reminder of the benefits of remaining steadfast rather than giving up. This being said, however, neither Sam nor Dave was aware of the diamonds that they were passing. They were digging either straight down or over (once they split ways). The diamonds were so close but the readers were the only ones to have knowledge of them. I think that this speaks to the danger of tunnel vision as we pursue any endeavor. Although they were passionate in their pursuit of “something spectacular,” they missed many opportunities of such treasures along the way. Only when their dog got whiff of the hidden treasures did he break the mold and keep digging.
The images in this book also help portray the themes. The images start out light and get darker and darker as the book goes on (until the end). The children get dirtier and dirtier causing even their faces to appear darker. This represents their inability to see the treasures that are all around them. As they get further and further into their tunnel vision, the pictures get darker and darker. It is interesting, however, that the treasures themselves are never tainted by such darkness. They remain bright and vividly displayed within the dirt. The illustrator does an amazing job of maintaining the integrity of the theme through the illustrations. They are equally as important in this story as the text. Without these images, the readers would be as lost to the treasures as the boys are themselves. Although the pictures are needed to complete the story, the structure of the text is not without its own merit. The dialogue is simple and the sentences are short, but it almost adds to the digging effect of the story. With each short, choppy sentence you feel as if you, too, are thrusting your shovel into the dirt to find something spectacular. Overall, this book sends children a very clear message masked with the sense of adventure: never give up. Although the boys continually seemed to fall short of their goal, there were always treasures just below the surface. That speaks a message of hope to anyone who is walking through a time or season of life that requires endurance.