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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

4.0 3
by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
 
A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book

With perfect pacing, the multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen dig down for a deadpan tale full of visual humor.

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns

Overview

A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book

With perfect pacing, the multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen dig down for a deadpan tale full of visual humor.

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
…clever…The prose is deadpan; the joke's all in Klassen's winsomely smudgy illustrations…
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/11/2014
Barnett’s comic voice is at its driest as he recounts that quintessential American childhood activity—the digging of the giant hole. His deadpan prose mimics the declarative sentences of early readers: “On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole. ‘When should we stop digging?’ asked Sam. ‘We are on a mission,’ said Dave.” Klassen’s boys, with identical poker faces and glassy expressions, hold their shovels American Gothic–style, considering their next move. Cross-sections of earth show them further and further down, and comic tension erupts as readers see gigantic diamonds buried at intervals underground while Sam and Dave tunnel on, missing every one: “So Dave went one way, and Sam went another. But they didn’t find anything spectacular.” Meanwhile, their dog’s pursuit of a small bone leads further downward, possibly through the Earth and out the “other side.” They land in their own backyard again—or do they? Barnett and Klassen (Extra Yarn) dangle the prospect of fantastic subterranean treasure before readers, but leave them with an even greater reward: a tantalizingly creepy and open-ended conclusion. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
A clever second collaboration between Barnett and Klassen... The prose is deadpan; the joke’s all in Klassen’s winsomely smudgy illustrations.
—New York Times Book Review

Barnett’s well-chosen words and plentiful white space support readers. Klassen’s cross-section illustrations give readers a mole’s-eye view of the underground proceedings, extending the spare text with visual humor. As in his previous books, Klassen shows an uncanny knack for conveying meaning with the subtlest of eye movements. How fitting that the wordless final spread features a knowing look between the dog and a cat familiar to Klassen fans; all that’s missing from the trippy conclusion is the theme music from The Twilight Zone. Mind-blowing in the best possible way.
—Horn Book (starred review)

When Sam and Dave dig a hole, readers get "something spectacular." The boys, on the other hand, do not. Their quest to find the spectacular brings them painfully and humorously close to buried jewels as they spade their way into the ground, accompanied by an intrepid canine companion. ... Poor Sam and Dave. Lucky readers.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Barnett’s comic voice is at its driest as he recounts that quintessential American childhood activity—the digging of the giant hole. ... Cross-sections of earth show them further and further down, and comic tension erupts as readers see gigantic diamonds buried at intervals underground while Sam and Dave tunnel on, missing every one... They land in their own backyard again—or do they? Barnett and Klassen dangle the prospect of fantastic subterranean treasure before readers, but leave them with an even greater reward: a tantalizingly creepy and open-ended conclusion.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The deliberately poker-faced, almost banal flatness of the text isn’t the joke here but the straight man to the ironic humor of the art (the boys’ elaborate subterranean efforts carefully lead them just past several increasingly huge diamonds). ... Engaging as well as stylish. Kids will enjoy playing "spot the differences" once they figure out the joke... Young excavators will appreciate this surreal modernization of the old notion of digging all the way to China.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

An understated, humorous, and charmingly perplexing tale. ... What works spectacularly is the clever play between words and pictures. As in Klassen’s "This Is Not My Hat," readers are in on a joke to which the characters are oblivious. Namely, that each time the boys change direction, they narrowly miss discovering increasingly enormous jewels hidden in the earth. .. Klassen’s use of muted earth tones and uncomplicated compositions is paired well with Barnett’s deadpan humor.
—School Library Journal

Klassen’s pebbly, earth-toned, colored-pencil and digital illustrations of Sam and Dave’s dig are exaggerated to comic effect, especially when coupled with Barnett’s dry, simple text. Subtle visual clues (the final absence of dirt on Sam’s and Dave’s clothes; a closing house that’s just slightly different from the opening one) suggest there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and canny little ones will likely be delighted by the beguiling ending.
—Booklist

A funny, deadpan adventure... This is an exercise in suspending disbelief, which children will gladly undertake. ... A topsy-turvy treasure-seeking adventure.
—Shelf Awareness

Mr. Barnett’s economical text works in droll counterpoint with illustrations that become subtly surreal. Soon the hole is so deep that the boys and the dog begin to plummet, only to land back in the soft dirt where they started. Or do they? Tiny clues suggest otherwise in this clever and faintly disconcerting adventure.
—Wall Street Journal

Part wry comedy of errors, part Twilight Zone, this book feels timeless in that it could have been from 50 years ago, or from 50 years in the future (and possibly from another dimension).
—Huffington Post

Part wry comedy of errors, part Twilight Zone, if you're digging through your shelves for something spectacular, look no further.
—Huffington Post, Best Picture Books of 2014

A wryly subtle, unexpectedly funny picture book about two brothers in search of something extraordinary. ... As they dig deeper and deeper (and get dirtier and dirtier), readers will delight in spotting the spectacular items that lie just outside their shovels’ reach. Barnett’s deadpan text and Klassen’s equally restrained illustrations (the dog’s facial expressions alone are priceless) combine to create a picture book rich in dramatic irony and understated hilarity. The limited color palette (heavy on the earth tones, of course), imaginative text and surprising ending combine to create a collaboration that is itself nothing short of spectacular.
—BookPage

A visually appealing underground adventure... Kids will love to read, reread and just look at this book.
—PBS Parents

Is any childhood truly complete without at least one shovel-wielding foray into shoulder-deep dirt? ... A carefully choreographed interplay between Mac Barnett’s straight-faced text ("So they kept digging") and Caldecott-winner Jon Klassen’s stylized illustrations.
—The Washington Post

The beauty of this story is that it articulates something kids seem to intuitively know, but can't really explain with language. The way that Klassen's illustrations tel as much of the story as Barnett's words is absolutely brilliant.
—Globe + Mail

With Barnett's clever prose and Jon Klassen's sly illustrations, this book is one of the best of the year.
—East Bay Express

Entertaining, funny and interesting... This picture-driven book engages the imagination with deadpan humor and dry wit.
—Minnesota Parent

Marvelous. ... Jon Klassen's art, created digitally in colored pencil, adds witty and clever layers to a humorous story about friendship, strategic thinking and determination.
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Charming... with droll illustrations.
—The Buffalo News

This book is deadpan and dead-awesome.
—BuzzFeed

A masterwork in humor, subtlety, and surprise, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole will leave readers digging for the truth.
—100 Scope Notes (SLJ blog)

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Two boys are wearing boots and holding serious shovels. A dog helps and a cat watches. Oddly, none of the characters have mouths in Klassen’s illustrations. The boys, Sam and Dave, start to dig a hole in what seems to be their backyard. Dave says they will not stop until they find “something spectacular.” The hole gets deeper, but they do not find the dusty pink diamonds lurking just under the earth—only the dog knows they are there. Dave and Sam finally split up and dig at several crazy angles, but miss the jewels every time. Tired, they stop for chocolate milk and animal cookies. The gems get bigger and bigger, but the boys still cannot uncover them, even though the dog keeps pointing. Finally, they dig far, far down and fall asleep. As the dog digs for a bone, the earth opens up—they are falling and falling like Alice down the rabbit hole. Filthy and amazed, they land spectacularly in their own backyard. But…is it? They go inside, watched by the cat. Alert viewers will notice subtle changes in the house and yard. Wasn’t that pear tree an apple tree before? The dog and the cat seem to understand the differences, as they exchange a silent, sidelong glance. Young readers and listeners can look for other shifting objects and perhaps tell stories about what might have happened. They can wonder about the eerie, deadpan tale and Caldecott-winner Klassen’s grimy, enigmatic illustrations. At the very least, readers and listeners can share chocolate milk and animal cookies with Sam and Dave. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
10/01/2014
PreS-Gr 1—The winning picture book team that created Extra Yarn (HarperCollins, 2012) is back together in this understated, humorous, and charmingly perplexing tale. Sam and Dave, who are either identical twin boys or friends who look astonishingly alike and share a sartorial sensibility, set out to dig a hole in the hopes of finding "something spectacular." With shovels in hand, the boys (with an eager terrier looking on) begin to tunnel into the soil, but they just can't seem to find anything of interest. What works spectacularly is the clever play between words and pictures. As in Klassen's This Is Not My Hat (Candlewick, 2012), readers are in on a joke to which the characters are oblivious. Namely, that each time the boys change direction, they narrowly miss discovering increasingly enormous jewels hidden in the earth. The book progresses with each verso showing the boys' progress, while the recto features simple text, mostly dialogue between the practical but unlucky explorers. About halfway through, a spread reveals a diamond so large it can barely be contained on the page; it dwarfs the two boys and their trusty canine companion—but all for naught, since they decide to dig in a different direction. Exhausted and covered from head to toe in dirt, Sam and Dave decide to take a rest. Klassen's use of muted earth tones and uncomplicated compositions is paired well with Barnett's deadpan humor. As they nap in their hole, the dog continues to dig…until suddenly the trio is falling; they soon land in a place that looks an awful lot like home. Small details reveal that this house and its inhabitants are ever so slightly changed. Are they dreaming? On the other side of the world? In a different dimension? Readers will have to puzzle that one out for themselves.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-16
When Sam and Dave dig a hole, readers get "something spectacular." The boys, on the other hand, do not. Their quest to find the spectacular brings them painfully and humorously close to buried jewels as they spade their way into the ground, accompanied by an intrepid canine companion. Readers occupy a superior position as cross-section illustrations reveal those jewels buried just out of the shovels' reach. Each time they near one, the increasingly grubby boys maddeningly change course. On they dig, tunneling in different directions, and each effort reveals (to readers) yet larger jewels evading them. Exhausted, they fall asleep, but the dog digs after a bone it senses below. In an unexpected turn, the ground gives way to nothingness, and the trio falls through empty space "until they landed in the soft dirt." At first glance, it seems they've ended up where they began: A small tree stands on the recto, and a house with a porch is on the verso, as before. But careful readers will notice that the tree here bears pears, while the tree at the story's start had apples. Other differing details (a weathervane duck instead of a chicken; a blue flower instead of a red one; a blue cat collar instead of a red) suggest that they've unwittingly fallen into another dimension. Poor Sam and Dave. Lucky readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763662295
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
10/14/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
19,820
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
310L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mac Barnett is the author of several award-winning books for children, including President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, and Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, which won a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and a Caldecott Honor. Mac Barnett lives in California.

Jon Klassen is the author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book, and This Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal. He is also the illustrator of House Held Up by Trees, written by Ted Kooser, which was named a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book, and Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett, which won a Caldecott Honor. Originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Jon Klassen now lives in Los Angeles.

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
19264725 4 months ago
One of my favorite books ... the point of this book is how close we come to reaching our goals and we give up to soon and never reach our goals because we stop short of reaching what we want. The boys come very close more than once but they get tired and change their plan 3 times. I think its a great book for kids to think about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great! My son's reading tutor read this with him, and now he looks forward to reading every day. He reads this out loud and his confidence has grown.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I really liked the cover of this children’s book and I heard it was good but it failed to live up to my expectations. I liked how the boys were on a mission with chocolate milk and animal cookies. I like how they didn’t give up on their expedition, they really did a lot of digging with their dog and they had high expectations to find something spectacular from the beginning. I found the illustrations interesting and engaging as the boys shoveled deeper into the earth and their hole got larger and larger. There were gems all around them, packed deep into the earth but the boys shovels were missing them as they dug. The illustrations provided great visuals of the boys and their journey. The ending just didn’t sit right with me; it still bothers me days later as I think about it. Why, oh why did it end this way?