The Digging-est Dog, by Al Perkins (Random House, 1967 [hardback] and 2006 [paperback revival], 72 pages, $8.99, Preschool to Grade 2)
(The previous DogEvals blog reviewed a digging dog book, A Perfect Day for Digging, so we thought it would be fun to follow up with another digging dog book!)
Some rhyming books are contrived: The Digging-est Dog is not – its rhyming scheme is natural enough to keep you reading along with your child (rhymes also make it easy for children to read and memorize).
Duke the dog is adopted from a pet shop after living there on a concrete floor for a long long time. He has never had the opportunity to dig so when he goes to live on a farm with his new boy Sam and meets the neighbor dogs who all dig, he is ashamed of himself and shunned by them. His boy tries to teach him to dig, but, with no success, until the following day when he wakes up – perhaps he learned to dig while dreaming!
Now, Duke doesn’t stop digging – he digs everywhere. He digs up the garden, he digs in the town, he even digs under the highway. And now, the neighbor dogs shun him for overdigging.
So Duke decides to dig down. And down, and down. Until he hits water and can’t get out of the deep hole he has dug for himself. How will his clever canine friends band together to save him? And how does Duke manage to undig the highway and the town and the garden and find his way back into his boy's heart?
You have to read the book to see Duke’s solution!
Fortunately, Duke finally finds his niche – as a plow on his farm. And all is well that ends well.
However, . . . .
The Digging-est Dog appeared on the scene in the 60s as a hardcover book and more recently in paperback – the sign of a classic. However, we no longer recommend that pet stores sell dogs or that dogs live outdoors in a dog house like Duke’s. Today dogs are family members and have their place inside our homes. The book’s saving grace, however, is that these two points serve as conversation starters with our children.
Another issue that dates this book is the use of the word, master, to depict Duke the dog’s person – also a subject for conversation.
And one might expect this book to have been written by Dr. Seuss due to the cat-in-the-hats on the front and back covers – all they mean, however, is a good rhyming book with a great story for children to be able to read all by themselves.
I am so glad this book is still in print!