Sam & Dave Dig a Hole - Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are already on my list of children's literature favourites (I'm going with the Canadian spellings here, in honour of Jon!), and this book only serves to increase my love of their collaborative dynamic (i.e. Extra Yarn, the gorgeous 2013 Caldecott Honor book!).

Like so much of Klassen's work, Sam & Dave relies on the use of a delicately balanced colour palette composed of tans, browns, and other neutral and warm hues. Colours such as peach and pink serve to draw the reader's attention to various components on each page that move the story forward. The clothing colours, as well, allow readers to keep Sam and Dave apart throughout. 

As Sam and Dave dig they come close to finding a number of large gems, though each time they are near, they decide to change course for various reasons (Barnett's crisp prose provide wonderfully ironic counterpoints to Klassen's imagery.) Each time they change direction, however, the dog serves as the eyes of the reader, pointing in the direction of the treasures even while Sam and Dave keep discussing the pros and cons of going in various directions in order to come across something spectacular.

The dog's expressions and seeming exasperation at Sam and Dave's ignorance of the treasures they keep missing by mere inches at times will entertain young readers on each page. And Barnett's simple but precise dialogues serve to provide humour and irony throughout the picturebook. And finally, even at the end, the duo can't help but remain ignorant of the changes around them as they go on a new mission for "chocolate milk and animal cookies."

Even the end of the book will bring about a sense of wonder and curiosity to those who pay close attention (I'm not spoiling anything, but pay close attention to the tree in their yard on both ends of the journey!)

It is no wonder that these two talented individuals keep winning awards and critical acclaim, when they churn out books like this! While simple at first glance, there are always multiple levels at play in their works, all of which deserve attention and appreciation. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is a picturebook that will be sure to bring enjoyment and laughter to adult and child audiences alike.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out October 14, 2014)


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