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Phoebe and Digger
  • Alternative view 1 of Phoebe and Digger
  • Alternative view 2 of Phoebe and Digger

Phoebe and Digger

by Tricia Springstubb, Jeff Newman (Illustrator)

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With a new baby taking up Mama’s time and attention, what will happen when Phoebe needs her?

When Mama got a new baby, Phoebe got a new digger. And when Mama is busy with the baby, Phoebe and Digger are busy, too: "Waa!" says the baby. "Rmm!" says Digger. Poop! goes the baby. "Rmm!" says Digger. Finally, Mama says


With a new baby taking up Mama’s time and attention, what will happen when Phoebe needs her?

When Mama got a new baby, Phoebe got a new digger. And when Mama is busy with the baby, Phoebe and Digger are busy, too: "Waa!" says the baby. "Rmm!" says Digger. Poop! goes the baby. "Rmm!" says Digger. Finally, Mama says it’s time to go to the park, the one with real dirt — and while Mama and the baby sit on the boring bench, Phoebe and Digger happily build and knock down and dig things up. That is, until a big girl comes by, a kid with mean teeth and grabby hands. Phoebe tries everything she can, but what if she never gets Digger back? Comical illustrations and a spot-on story are sure to make readers of all ages smile in recognition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A new toy steam shovel becomes Phoebe’s ally in her displacement anxiety. When her baby sibling cries “Waa!” Phoebe and Digger respond with an equally robust “RMM!” (as well as some minor domestic damage). It takes a much-needed trip to the park, and the possible loss of Digger to a bully, to persuade Phoebe that she hasn’t lost her place in Mom’s affections. Springstubb (Mo Wren, Lost and Found) stumbles a bit at the wrap-up—she doesn’t need to tell readers that a hug from Mama is “The safest, happiest, best-loved place... a moment she wished would go on forever and a day”—but her sense of narrative economy and empathy is otherwise spot-on. Newman’s (Rabbit’s Snow Dance) stylized characterizations, saturated colors, spare backgrounds, and assured black line work bring to mind the best of UPA animation. Readers will cheer for sloe-eyed Phoebe as she veers from mischievous grin to slow burn and back again, just as they will covet Digger, the most expressive steam shovel since Mike Mulligan’s Mary Anne. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Kasey Giard
After her mama has a baby, Phoebe takes comfort in a new toy steam shovel, Digger. While her mother is distracted by the baby's needs, Phoebe amuses herself with Digger, sometimes causing trouble. Mama takes the children to the park where Phoebe and Digger play in the dirt. Mama and the baby sit by and watch, which is just fine with Phoebe, until a playground bully takes Digger from her. Suddenly Phoebe feels frightened, alone, and helpless. Just when she is about to break into tears, Mama and the baby come to her aid. The other child returns Digger and Phoebe receives comfort and reassurance from her mother. This is a great book for children who are adjusting to a new baby in the family. Phoebe wrestles with some common feelings and is assured that she still has the support and love of her mother even though her mother now has a new baby to care for as well. The illustrations, especially of the tiny steam shovel, are adorable and convey emotions that will be easy for young children to interpret. Recommended. Reviewer: Kasey Giard
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Phoebe isn't thrilled when a new baby arrives at her house, but she is crazy about the earthmover she gets at the same time. She plays with "Digger" endlessly and begins to wreak havoc with it. When Mama takes Phoebe and the baby to the park, Phoebe finds some dirt, and she and Digger are off to play. When a boy starts screaming because Digger unearthed an earthworm, Phoebe gets sent to sit on the bench until she can learn "how to play nice." Once released, she heads for another area full of dirt and it is there that a bigger girl takes Digger away from her. The child tries using her words and anything else she can think of to get it back and is almost ready to cry when her mother intervenes. To Phoebe's great relief, the big girl sheepishly returns the toy. When Mama hugs Phoebe tight, all is right with the world. This story is part sibling rivalry and part bullying but it also features an interesting girl who chooses to play with earthmovers over dolls. The large bold paintings are perfect for storytime and are well used throughout to show mood and scale.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Phoebe overcomes new-sibling qualms and fear of a playground bully in this emotive and playful story. "When Mama got a new baby...Phoebe got a new digger." Comical illustrations and text play this dynamic out as the baby cries, eats and poops; Digger (a toy backhoe), controlled by Phoebe, is equal in attention-seeking behavior, knocking over trash, chasing the cat and pulling tablecloths down. An outing to the park becomes the perfect distraction, as Digger enjoys real dirt and Phoebe her imagination. Parental misinterpretation of behavior lands Phoebe in timeout—a perfect representation of Phoebe's feelings regarding the injustice of the family's latest change. When play resumes, a bully snatches Digger. Phoebe tries to get him back, but to no avail. When she's on the brink of tears, Mama reassuringly steps in. With Digger back in Phoebe's arms, and Phoebe back in Mama's arms, the heroine once again feels safe and loved. With a new connection to her sibling made, a frozen treat shared and her world restored, all ends happily. Newman's expressive drawings, done in a loose and economical style, serve the story well. His artwork, from the way he considers perspective to the interesting and emotionally truthful portrayals of the characters, allows readers (and parents!) to identify with this feisty yet sensitive heroine. Nuanced and humorous, this is a worthy addition to the new-sibling shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Tricia Springstubb is the author of What Happened on Fox Street and Two Plus One Make Trouble, as well as several other children’s books. A former children’s librarian, she lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Jeff Newman grew up in Ashland, Massachusetts, and attended the Art Institute of Boston. He currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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