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This week I'm celebrating Sam and Dave and some ambiguity!
I have so much to celebrate this week...from Kate Messner's new book 59 Reasons to Write to our cardboard arcade to my cousin in Guatemala helping me with research to bullet journaling but I've wanted to talk about Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and my theory for a while now. Next week we'll be celebrating the books that win ALA awards and I'm wondering if Sam and Dave might be one of those award-winning books but I want to celebrate it either way.
I'm celebrating Sam and Dave Dig a Hole again because it's a book I've shared with so many people - from kids to adults - a book that makes me think and has sparked countless conversations...and lots of, "Hmm..." and looking at the ceiling. And I love it.
If you've been around for a while, you know how completely crazy I Want My Hat Back made me, the discussions we had, my love-hate relationship with that book. Well, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole also has sent my brain spinning but I can see that I'm much more open-armed when it comes to this book. (Maybe it's because no rabbits are harmed in this book...but maybe more because I'm growing as a reader.) Either way, I've realized I'm at a point where I wish we had more books like I Want My Hat Back and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, books that challenge readers and give them credit for all the brains they bring to the table.
These books that make me scratch my head
Are books that beg to be reread.
These books that make me do a double take
Are books that make my little head ache.
These books that make me want to shout
Are books I don't want to live without.
When I saw Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen at Anderson's last fall. They talked about how they do mean to be slightly ambiguous in this book but at the same time, Mac argued that they do give lots of clues so the reader can fill in his or her own ideas. I can't help but feel that crazy-making books like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole remind me a bit of the following artwork:
If you haven't read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole yet, I hope I haven't scared you away. Honestly, it needs to be read and reread. I don't know how you cannot close read this one. It's probably the closest I've read something in a long time.After multiple rereads, here's my theory. You can read all sorts of theories on Travis Jonker's blog post over at 100 Scope Notes. I shared my theory there in the comments and here it is again with a little editing.
Here's my theory: I believe the whole book is a metaphor for life or any experiences we might have in life. Life is an adventure and there are times when we think we're working towards a goal or trying to get to something specific and often what we are striving for is right there without us realizing it. In the end, whether we get what we are looking for or not, we're changed by the journey. The journey changes us and we see the world in a different way. The trick for me is that the boys don't necessarily realize that they are changed...but sometimes life is like that, too. Sometimes a person or an experience changes us and we have no idea how world-altering it is. Sometimes we do feel the impact but other times, it's hard to realize the true magnitude of how our lives change from what we experience or the people we encounter.
When it comes to the dog, I think he can be interpreted different ways. First of all, he serves to help the reader realize how the story is a metaphor, he's almost a silent narrator who urges us to think about the story in more than a literal way. Additionally, he reminds me of people in our lives who are with us along the way, mentors or other individuals who we go to and who listen almost as outsiders. Sometimes it's hard to see the big picture of life when we're living it, but there are often wise people who can see that bigger perspective - and sometimes they point this out to us while other times they let us realize it for ourselves. Overall, I like that the dog doesn't really interfere, that they boys make the choices that they make and he's there do to his thing as they go along. I believe he gets the bone as an example that there are some people who know what they want and that it doesn't have to be something spectacular. And maybe that's another message - or an extension of the boys' message - that when you are always looking for something monumental in life, you might not appreciate the little things but if you stay focused on the small things and the most important things, you generally are happier with what you have or get.
And the more I think about, the book also shows us that there might be times in our lives when we are more like the boys and really dreaming big but there might be times in our lives when we are more like the dog and zeroing in on what's most crucial. Either way, I think the boys and the dog are pretty content in the end. So however you live your life, you can find happiness.
In looking at Travis' theories, I think mine most aligns with his Epic Journey theory. I don't think we have to go on an epic journey though. Every little journey we take in life can change us in an epic way. In the end this is what I've taken away from this book and why I'm celebrating Sam and Dave and some ambiguity this week. It let me fill in my own story and it means more to me because of it.
What are you celebrating this week?