Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
illustrated by Jon Klassen
Sam and Dave are digging a hole,
and they will not stop until they find something spectacular.
Winner of the Caldecott Honor
Winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award
Winner of the Irma Black Award
Winner of the Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award
A New York Times Best Seller
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Best Children's Book of 2014
A PBS Best Picture Book of 2014
A Guardian Best Book of 2014
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2014
A Kirkus Best Book of 2014
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014
A Globe & Mail 100 Best Books of 2014 Selection
A Huffington Post Best Picture Book of 2014
A BuzzFeed Best Picture Book of 2014
An Association for Library Service to Children Notables Selection
A Toronto Public Library First & Best Book of 2014
A Reading Today Best Picture Book of 2014
A Junior Library Guild Selection
★ "Barnett’s well-chosen words (“Sam and Dave ran out of chocolate milk. / But they kept digging. / They shared the last animal cookie. / But they kept digging”) and plentiful white space support readers. Klassen’s cross-section illustrations give readers a mole’s-eye view of the underground proceedings, extending the spare text with visual humor. As in his previous books, Klassen shows an uncanny knack for conveying meaning with the subtlest of eye movements. How fitting that the wordless final spread features a knowing look between the dog and a cat familiar to Klassen fans; all that’s missing from the trippy conclusion is the theme music from The Twilight Zone. Mind-blowing in the best possible way."
—The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
★ “When Sam and Dave dig a hole, readers get "something spectacular." The boys, on the other hand, do not. Their quest to find the spectacular brings them painfully and humorously close to buried jewels as they spade their way into the ground, accompanied by an intrepid canine companion. ... Poor Sam and Dave. Lucky readers.
—Kirkus, starred review
★ "Barnett’s comic voice is at its driest as he recounts that quintessential American childhood activity—the digging of the giant hole. ...Cross-sections of earth show them further and further down, and comic tension erupts as readers see gigantic diamonds buried at intervals underground while Sam and Dave tunnel on, missing every one... They land in their own backyard again—or do they? Barnett and Klassen dangle the prospect of fantastic subterranean treasure before readers, but leave them with an even greater reward: a tantalizingly creepy and open-ended conclusion."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Author Mac Barnett and Canadian author/illustrator Jon Klassen, the dream team who last collaborated on the Caldecott Honor-winning Extra Yarn, reunite for a striking story that is sure to delight… As with Barnett and Klassen’s previous book, the brilliance of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is the interplay of the deceptively simple text, what the characters know, and what is pictured… Ending with an illustration full of subtext that makes kids think as well as laugh is classic Klassen, and it works. Get ready to add another favorite to your collection."
—Quill & Quire, starred review
“Two brothers are determined to find “something spectacular” in this clever second collaboration between Barnett and Klassen”
—New York Times
"Is any childhood truly complete without at least one shovel-wielding foray into shoulder-deep dirt?... A carefully choreographed interplay between Mac Barnett’s straight-faced text ("So they kept digging") and Caldecott-winner Jon Klassen’s stylized illustrations."
—The Washington Post
"Mr. Barnett’s economical text works in droll counterpoint with illustrations that become subtly surreal. Soon the hole is so deep that the boys and the dog begin to plummet, only to land back in the soft dirt where they started. Or do they? Tiny clues suggest otherwise in this clever and faintly disconcerting adventure."
—Wall Street Journal
"Klassen’s pebbly, earth-toned, colored-pencil and digital illustrations of Sam and Dave’s dig are exaggerated to comic effect, especially when coupled with Barnett’s dry, simple text. Subtle visual clues (the final absence of dirt on Sam’s and Dave’s clothes; a closing house that’s just slightly different from the opening one) suggest there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and canny little ones will likely be delighted by the beguiling ending."
"The beauty of this story is that it articulates something kids seem to intuitively know, but can’t really explain with language. The way that Klassen’s illustrations tell as much of the story as Barnett’s words is absolutely brilliant."
—Globe and Mail
"An understated, humorous, and charmingly perplexing tale. ... What works spectacularly is the clever play between words and pictures. As in Klassen’s "This Is Not My Hat," readers are in on a joke to which the characters are oblivious. Namely, that each time the boys change direction, they narrowly miss discovering increasingly enormous jewels hidden in the earth. ... Klassen’s use of muted earth tones and uncomplicated compositions is paired well with Barnett’s deadpan humor."
—School Library Journal
“The dog in Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Sam & Dave Dig a Hole may be unnamed (indeed in a postmodern touch he’s never mentioned, though he appears on every page) but he plays a vital role by the end of this charming story about two boys who decide to dig a hole one Monday morning….I’m not going to reveal what happens, but the ending is wonderful. This one is Syd’s favourite and goes into our picture book hall of fame.”
"Marvelous. ... Jon Klassen's art, created digitally in colored pencil, adds witty and clever layers to a humorous story about friendship, strategic thinking and determination."
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"With Barnett's clever prose and Jon Klassen's sly illustrations, this book is one of the best of the year."
—East Bay Express
"Charming... with droll illustrations."
—The Buffalo News
"A visually appealing underground adventure... Kids will love to read, reread and just look at this book."
The deliberately poker-faced, almost banal flatness of the text isn’t the joke here but the straight man to the ironic humor of the art (the boys’ elaborate subterranean efforts carefully lead them just past several increasingly huge diamonds). ... Engaging as well as stylish. Kids will enjoy playing "spot the differences" once they figure out the joke... Young excavators will appreciate this surreal modernization of the old notion of digging all the way to China.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A wryly subtle, unexpectedly funny picture book about two brothers in search of something extraordinary. ... As they dig deeper and deeper (and get dirtier and dirtier), readers will delight in spotting the spectacular items that lie just outside their shovels’ reach. Barnett’s deadpan text and Klassen’s equally restrained illustrations (the dog’s facial expressions alone are priceless) combine to create a picture book rich in dramatic irony and understated hilarity. The limited color palette (heavy on the earth tones, of course), imaginative text and surprising ending combine to create a collaboration that is itself nothing short of spectacular."
"Part wry comedy of errors, part Twilight Zone, this book feels timeless in that it could have been from 50 years ago, or from 50 years in the future (and possibly from another dimension)."
"A masterwork in humor, subtlety, and surprise, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole will leave readers digging for the truth."
—100 Scope Notes
“A funny, deadpan adventure... This is an exercise in suspending disbelief, which children will gladly undertake. ... A topsy-turvy treasure-seeking adventure.”
"Entertaining, funny and interesting... This picture-driven book engages the imagination with deadpan humor and dry wit."
"This book is deadpan and dead-awesome."
“Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is a hilarious, mind-bending book about two boys (and a dog) looking for something exciting—but they keep missing. Klassen’s style is a perfect fit for Barnett’s understated text. My kids love this, over and over and over.”