The Diggers

By Margaret Wise Brown
Hyperion, 1995

Book Description
Dig, dig, dig! A man and his shovel dig a tunnel under a river, into the country and through a mountain. Where will they dig to next? Margaret Wise Brown’s verses describe the holes that a mole, dog, worm, and rabbit dig, but none can compare with the work of a man and his steam shovel. First published in 1960, a timeless narrative about the universal experience of digging, from a worm winding its way through the earth to the swinging of the great jaws of the steam shovel, is complemented by bold, stylized illustrations.

Reviews of The Diggers

Review from Kirkus
Kirk’s oil illustrations are in perfect balance with the text. It is technology with a human face in this utterly modern revisitation of a classic.

Review from Publishers Weekly
Kirk’s sharp-edged oils pack a punchy palette and even punchier perspectives.

Daniel Kirk speaks about The Diggers

Margaret Wise Brown is one of the most respected and well-know children’s writers of our time.
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Ms. Brown had been dead for a number of years; but during her life she was a very prolific writer, and not all of her work was published. The editors at Hyperion thought my artistic style would be perfect to illustrate a story like The Diggers. Something about my work seemed well suited to the temperament of little boys, who are the target audience for a book like this about shovels, pirates, heavy digging machinery and old-fashioned locomotives.

For research, I ended up studying a lot of my old favorite illustrators to see how they painted the kinds of vehicles and machinery that I would need to paint in The Diggers. Since this was an old story, I wanted the book to look a little old-fashioned. In the drawing of the book I tried to be playful. I wanted to exaggerate the shapes of things to make the book look striking and fun. I tried to use colors that were bold and bright, but at the same time warm and friendly.

Things to think about and do once you have read The Diggers

1. Why do animals dig holes in the ground? What kinds of animals dig holes?
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2. Do you think it is possible to dig a hole to China? Has anyone ever done it?

3. Dig a hole in the ground somewhere your parents say it is OK. Take note of everything you find in the hole. If the hole gets deeper, do you find different things in the hole?

4.  The Diggers takes place in a time when railroad tracks were still being laid from coast to coast. Read some books about how the railroads transformed the American landscape and helped to build our country.

5. Look up other books by the author Margaret Wise Brown. She is considered one of the best children’s book writers of all time!

                              Copyright 2015 | Daniel Kirk