Friday, May 15, 2015

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen (2014)Smal

Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett teamed up in 2012 with Extra Yarn, which is still one of my favorite picture books.  It was a Caldecott Honor book, much deserved.  Here's their next collaboration, another much deserved Caldecott.  I love Jon Klassen's illustrations (his color palette, value and tones are particularly lovely to me).  But Mac Barnett's stories, I've falling in love with.  As much as my favorite of favorites Mo Willems... perhaps not that much.  But getting close.

So two boys,  Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole.  That's the plot.

If you were ever a boy, you probably did the same thing.  If you were a girl, you may have done that too.  When I was a boy, we had a girl - actually several - who hung with us boys.  Nothing was ever a boy or girl activity.

Here's the line I read, and realized I adored this book:

"Dave drank chocolate milk
out of a canteen.
Sam at animal cookies he had wrapped
in their grandfather's kerchief."

It took me a while to figure out what that reminded me of, what it harkened back to, what made it sweet and nostalgic and so good.  Then I realized.

Bread and Jam for Frances.
Small Pig.
Beverly Cleary.

Simple sentences that say so much.

The book is surreal - the end is a doozy - but it's a lovely, lovey book.

Sam and Dave Dig a HoleSam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are no holes in this deceptively simple story.  The illustrations are works of bemusement and loveliness; of course, you would expect nothing less from Jon Klassen, who has this artistic knack of making everything old seem new again; these boys could have been digging this hole in 1968 (or perhaps gone sledding with the boy from The Snowy Day.  Barnett's prose at times puts us squarely at the table with Frances (of bread and jam fame) or Beverly Cleary (Ramona would have been right in there with them).  Then,there is the delightfully silly and surreal end that will leave adults scratching their heads (the cat and dog on the last page, their eyes say it all).  Kids will love it, I think.


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