We’ve reached a difficult stage with our bedtime reading. Sonny wants a lengthier story, Luca still wants a picture book, and if I’m honest, I just want to be done before Great British Bake Off starts.
Keeping everyone happy means our bedtime routine is starting earlier by the day, to the point that I’m now thinking through the logistics of serving them their dinner in the bath.
But every now and then we stumble upon a book that keeps us all happy, and more often than not it involves my favourite illustrator, Jon Klassen.
There’s something magical in the subtlety of Klassen’s drawings that brings the shortest and most simple of sentences bursting to life. And with Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, he does this by the bucket-load (don’t go pardoning that pun now, I’m quite proud of it).
It’s a simple premise. Sam and Dave dig down, down, down, until they find something spectacular. And who doesn’t love digging a hole in the hope of finding something spectacular?
We went to Crosby beach last week for Sonny’s birthday, and digging down, down, down was the first thing we did.
Our something spectacular was a bubblin’ crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea … or given my subsequent ear and throat infection, possibly sewage, but my point still stands. Everyone loves the curious delights of digging a hole.
Mac Barnett’s deadpan prose is perfectly complimented by the humour within Jon Klassen’s illustration, and the deeper they dig, the more excited Sonny and Luca get at seeing what Sam & Dave can’t.
I won’t tell you what the something spectacular is that they eventually find. Not for reasons of plot spoiling, rather Sonny, Luca and I all have our own theories on what that is. And it’s this ambiguity and the imaginative possibilities that I love most about the book. That and the shifting eyes of their canine companion.
I don’t think I’m giving anything away by telling you Sonny’s theory. It involves the portals and underworld of a six-year olds mind who’s spent way too much time playing Minecraft.
Luca decided the moral of the story, worryingly, was that if you find yourself in a hole, just keep digging. An affliction I know oh so well.
Like Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, Sam & Dave Dig A Hole ranks right up there with my favourite pictures books, and comes highly recommended by all three of us.