Title: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Published: Candlewick Press, 2014
We’ve talked here before about books that certain members of the family like and certain other family members…don’t feel as strongly about. Today’s book falls into that category: it’s OK, and I don’t DISLIKE it, but it’s not SUPER (although it IS super creepy…stay tuned for more).
Lily disagrees and really enjoys the story.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is written by the talented Mac Barnett and illustrated by the always awesome Jon Klassen. Lily immediately recognized the art style and said, “Hey! That’s the guy who did the I Want My Hat Back book!” She was enthused to read the book, especially when I reminded her that this dynamic duo penned/illustrated Triangle and Square, two books she adored this summer (as part of our ‘let’s borrow all the books from the library and see if they notice’ project).
So we read the story. It can be summarized thusly: 2 brothers (Sam and Dave) decide to dig a big hole in search of something spectacular. Unbeknown to them, every time they dig in a new direction, they miss discovering a large jewel. They then fall asleep (due to exhaustion and lack of snacks) and their dog (who seems to be quite wise) digs a bit further. Sam and Dave fall through it and end up outside their grandfather’s house. They go in for a snack. A simple, kinda meh ending, right?
The house at the end (where they fall through and end up) is NOT the same as the house they started at. Want proof?
Prepare to have your mind BLOWN:
Oh, look! A nice apple tree. Grandpa must grow apples! How sweet.
Oh, look! A nice pear tree. Wait, Grandpa doesn’t grow pears! That’s not Mr. Whiskers! Where the hell are we, Sam?!
(Also: sorry my camera is potato-quality.)
So now I’m kinda freaked out. Where did you end up, Sam and Dave?! Will Grandpa have button eyes? Are you in the upside-down? WHERE ARE YOU?!
1. The illustrations are, of course, fantastic. The subtle glances the dog gives, both trying to point out the jewels and trying to point out that they ARE NOT IN THE SAME PLACE THEY STARTED are good…and creepy. Every page is lovely. Jon Klassen is a master. Although Dan Santat is my #1 art homie, Jon Klassen is top five.
2. The freaky ending. I did NOT see that coming. In fact, truth be told, I’ve owned this book for a while now and hadn’t noticed it until tonight. And now I’m so creeped out.
What isn’t my favourite:
1. The super-simple story. Lily thought it was hilarious that the boys kept missing the jewels – and this seemed to be a common kid-reaction on Goodreads (I like to see what the general populous thinks of a book before I weigh in). I found it kind of frustrating. What does that say about our personalities? Type-A, Type-B? Fun/no-fun (I’m the no-fun, naturally)? Without the super-freaky ending (which is subtle), the story just feels really basic. Kind of meh overall. When you realize that it’s actually Black Mirror-esque, it gets much stranger. I wonder how many people actually did as I did, and simply missed the subtle details because they were too busy reading the book to a kid, who likes the simplicity of the story.
LIly wanted me to add that she also really liked the cat character. Because, well, it’s a cat.*
So the book is interesting. Simple, but interesting right at the end. Chilling, even. Downright freaky, if you will.
I’m sleeping with the lights on tonight.
Lily: Let’s read it again!
Mama: The apples are pears! The apples are pears!
*The cat at the end is not the cat at the beginning. The dog knew everything. Always trust the wise-looking dog.