Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 277

Picture Book: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Summary: Sam and Dave begin their mission. They won’t stop digging until they find “something spectacular”. They dig straight down, but find nothing. They decide to dig in another direction, to the side. They dig in that direction for a while and then decide to split up and dig in two different directions. Each time, they find nothing so again they start digging together and straight down. Eventually they rest. Meanwhile, the dog, who all along has been giving hints as to what they are missing, begins digging straight down for a bone. All 3 characters fall through air to another home, an alternative reality of sorts. It looks very similar to the home they left. Upon landing, Sam and Dave declare, “That was pretty spectacular.”  Each illustration offers a cutaway view of Sam and Dave’s digging. Every time they change their direction, it is just before they are about to dig up a huge gem! Again and again in comical fashion, they miss a “spectacular something.” However, the characters are wise enough to realize that the journey in itself was spectacular.

Hanna’s Comments: The illustrations in this book are crucial to the enjoyment. I’m not just referring to where the huge gems are located, but also the dog’s behavior and the subtle differences between Sam and Dave’s location at the start and where they land. It will be important for your audience to be able to see these details so consider projecting the book on a screen or having multiple books with designated page turners who turn each page just as you do. Pacing is crucial in the delivery of this story. If you are reading to young children, you’ll need to explain beforehand that this is not a story based in our reality, although it seems to start that way. The ending is mysterious and up to interpretation. Encourage them all to interpret and discuss. There are many possibilities. You may want to read the book again after you have talked about it. If you plan to do this, don’t point out things the first time you read it, but do read slowly so that people have time to notice the details. Encourage them to be silent and attentive. Then the story becomes an individual journey, perhaps even “something spectacular” for each audience member.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick Press, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, adventure, blessings, choices/decisions, commitment, companionship, disappointment, doubt, exploration, friends/friendship, God’s will, grace, gratitude/thanksgiving, humanity, journeys/migrations/pilgrimages/quests, labor/work, land/mountains/soil, life, mission, mistakes, partners/teamwork, patience, perseverance, perspective, pets, purpose, satisfaction, searching, steadfastness, treasure, waiting, wisdom

Scripture Connections: Scripture stories of wandering (i.e. the Israelites in the wilderness), scripture stories of surprisingly good results (i.e. Joseph in Egypt), or scripture stories of realizing your priorities have changed (i.e. Paul on the road to Damascus)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults when you are talking about the idea of individual spiritual journeys, particularly the value of process over product.

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