Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Image of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Irma S and James H Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature (Awards))
Release Date: 
October 14, 2014
Candlewick Press
Reviewed by: 

“Sometimes the best stories are those that do not point out the obvious but rather keep us wondering, and in this case, let us come up with our own ending.”

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole inspires and intrigues with its veiled cleverness and obvious creativity.

Award-winning author Mac Barnett has written this story in short and easily understandable verse that is further enhanced by the witty illustrations of award-winning author-illustrator Jon Klassen. Together, they have created a book that will entertain readers of all ages and keep you wondering what will happen next, even after the story concludes.

Children will be excited to read this book simply because it involves digging a hole. What child can resist a book about getting dirty and digging a giant hole? Poor Sam and Dave dig their hole deeper and deeper into the ground in search of unknown treasures, while continuously missing the mark with a series of untimely snack breaks, miscalculated directional changes, and simple bad luck. The two youngsters just cannot seem to find that elusive treasure they are searching for. 

Sam and Dave’s small dog, who joins them on their hole-digging adventure, lends comic relief as he seems to know something they don’t. The illustrations tell a side story hinting to the reader that this little dog knows exactly where the treasures are . . . if only he could tell Sam and Dave! 

After a tiring dig, Sam and Dave decide to take a much needed rest, but their clever and persistent dog keeps digging. Soon, not only does he find a tasty bone to chew on, but he discovers that maybe they have dug a little too far. They all begin to fall through the hole. 

“Sam and Dave fell down, down, down, until they landed on soft dirt.” 
“Well,” said Sam.
“Well,” said Dave. “That was pretty spectacular.”

At first glance it seems that they have fallen right back into the yard where they started digging the hole, but is it? Is this their yard and their house?  Have things changed? This is where the mystery of the story begins, at the very end. 

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is not simply a story about two young friends digging a hole in search of “something spectacular” but rather, it is an adventure, eliciting feelings of determination, humor, anticipation, frustration, and even wonder—all of which engage the reader from the first page to the last.

Sometimes the best stories are those that do not point out the obvious but rather keep us wondering, and in this case, let us come up with our own ending.