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Month in review

Reviews
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Ash by Malinda Lo
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang
Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Bad Machinery 2: The Case of the Good Boy by John Allison
Bumperhead by Gilbert Hernández
The Croc Ate My Homework: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Hot Air Baboons by Maxwell Eaton III
Fullmetal Alchemist 27 by Hiromu Arakawa
The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist by Tim Federle
Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann
Lord and Lady Bunny—Almost Royalty! by Polly Horvath
Meeting Cezanne by Michael Morpurgo
Oz: Ozma of Oz by Eric Shanower
Potential by Ariel Schrag
The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier
Quest by Aaron Becker
Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen
Rain by Amanda Sun
The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Shackleton's Journey by William Grill
The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter
13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 08 by CLAMP
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 09 by CLAMP
The Weapon from Beyond by Edmond Hamilton

Miscellaneous
Bloggiesta Mini Challenge — Digital Photography
My Bloggiesta To Do List
Bricks, bricks and more bricks

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Sam and Dave Dig a Hole: 09/10/15

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett is a bit of a head scratcher.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett is a 2015 Caldecott honor book but it's one of those books that's a bit of a head scratcher. Before I explain why, let me tell you a story.

I grew up in a suburb of San Diego that was built on the tops of hills that define the contours of Rose Canyon. When the suburb was originally planned, there were lots of major boulevards designed to cut through the valleys and connect the neighborhood with its neighbors.

Many of those plans fell through as the Baby Boom's birth rate dwindled, leaving a primarily linear navigation scheme shaped around one large cross on the major directions of the compass. The other streets dwindled off it into small circles that lead to dead ends at canyon trails, cul du sacs, or looped in on themselves.

But there is one road that seemed like a magical short cut to bi-pass the traffic of the main drag through town. It started at the junior high and ended (after going in a straight line, or at least it appeared straight a half mile down the same road at the elementary school.

Straight lines, I knew, don't cross a second time. So to my juvenile mind, if my parents took the short cut and then took the long way home, we had to be in an alternate universe that just looked very similar. There was no other way to explain it.

It wasn't until I was older and I borrowed my Grandmother's Thomas Guide road atlas that I realized they were three roads: Radcliffe, Syracuse, and Stadium that have a couple gentle curves where they connect. As a passenger, distracted by drawing or reading, I just didn't notice the curves!

So back to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. Sam and Dave are bored and decide to dig a hole to look for something interesting. They go one way and then another, and then at angles and never manage to find anything. As readers we are privy to what they can't see through the dirt. We can see ever larger diamonds as they go.

The dog knows what's up

And then... and then... the bottom drops out, literally. Sam and Dave and their dog take a tumble and end up home.

Well... Sam and Dave were digging. So the curved road solution isn't really an option here, is it?

Now, take a look at the home a the start of the book and at the end of the book. What kinds of flowers are there? What kind of fruit tree? What kind of weather vane?

Here's the thing. The pay off is so subtle that most people (of all ages) miss the punchline until it's explained to them. And it's not enough of a trip to get people talking — not like the mind bending 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's two boys digging holes for pages and pages and pages. The set up, while cute on the first missed diamond, is boring!

So when the plot (such as it is) takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque, readers seem mostly relieved to be done with the book. Then if an initiated reader shows them the trick, the look at the first and last pages, and ooh and ahh, appreciatively. But that appreciation isn't enough to want to re-read the book right away.

Three stars

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