Sam and Dave Dig a Hole


Title: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, Irony

Opening Lines:

On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole.

“When should we stop digging?” asked Sam.
“We are on a mission,” said Dave.
“We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular.”

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.


  •  Check-out the Story-Hour Kit from Candlewick. Contains a game idea that will have kids on their feet, discussion questions and a drawing exercise. Pages 4, 11, & 12.
  • Learn about the layers of the Earth at Easy Science for Kids.
  • Questions: Discuss what would be the challenges of actually trying to dig a deep hole like Sam & Dave. What would happen if you could dig through the earth?

Why I Like This Book:

The duo that brought us Extra Yarn (one of my all-time favorites) are back with a charming story about two boys on a mission to find something spectacular. They dig and dig and then dig some more but are always missing that something “spectacular”, though the dog always seems to have a sixth sense about it. This visual irony is the gem of the book and is what kids will find most appealing. My 6yr old was talking back to the book saying “it’s right there!” I enjoyed how Mr. Barnett has captured the authenticity of young children so accurately from just the idea of let’s dig for treasure, to the back-n-forth dialogue that fills the book, to being happy with chocolate milk and animal cookies. The only area that the creators may have missed the boat is in the cryptic spectacular ending; was it the falling from the sky, spending a day digging with your best friend, or something else. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. (Check-out this interesting post by Travis Jonkers at 100 Scope note about 6 theories on the ending)

The subdued colors and dead-panned expressions, classic Klassen, complement Barnett’s wry humor and together work beautifully to convey the visual irony. Do take notice of the beginning and ending scenes.


This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Candlewick Press. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

13 Comments to “Sam and Dave Dig a Hole”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I want to read this one.

  2. I’ve been waiting for this one to come out. Looks like a fun one, especially the ending. Intrigued and checking out those story hour activities. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This sounds awesome! I love Mr. Barnett’s books! 😀

  4. Darshana, have you read Travis Jonker’s post on Six Theories on the Ending of “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole” at 100 Scope Notes? Hysterical!

  5. Extra Yarn is among my favorite. I’m intrigued by the ending and read the Six Theories about the ending, It certainly has generated a lot of fun discussion — probably what Barnett and Klaussen wanted. Think the dog is significant.

  6. I have to know the ending now, so I am putting it on hold! Great way to get us all excited, Darshana!

  7. I have to read this one. When we were kids, my brother and his friends dug an 8 foot deep hole and got into a ration of trouble for almost burying themselves in the process.

  8. Jellies! I hope my library gets it soon!

  9. I’ve had this one on my want list. That Mr Barnett is one funny man.

  10. Now I want to know what the ending is, *sigh.* I hope my library gets it sometime soon.

  11. I’ve been looking forward to this book’s release, and was planning to do it for PPBF because I knew it would be great, but then saw you had it up already so I didn’t even go to the library to get it 🙂 And now I’m still dying to read it, especially because of the ending… which I didn’t know was so open to interpretation 🙂 Thanks so much for adding this one to our list, Darshana!!!

  12. Ha ha. I’m glad I took the time to look at last week’s perfect picture books. This looks hilarious. Thank-you.

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