Title: A Hole Is to Dig
Author: Ruth Krauss
Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Harper Collins
I initially wanted to run this Thursday Classics series because there are so many great books from the 20th century that aren't readily available at your local big box bookstore. Barnes and Noble and Borders carry many classics (Runaway Bunny, Dr Seuss, etc.), but there are real gems that they miss while catering to new tastes.
Maruice Sendak and Ruth Krauss's A Hole Is To Dig: a First Book of Definitions is a perfect example. This tiny picture book filled with Sendak's singularly charming illustrations, is a litany of child-given definitions. It is charming, silly, engaging, and (yes!) educative. And, it ought to be on every child's bookshelf.
The book is engaging for adults and children alike. And adult is struck by the childlike definitions--definitions that are almost self evident for children:
The ground is to make a gardenHonestly, what are toes for, if not to wiggle them? Honestly, I can think of no better reason to have them.
Grass is to cut
Grass is to have on the ground with dirt under it and clover in it
Maybe you could hide things in a hole
A party is to say how-do-you-do and shake hands
A party is to make little children happy
Arms are to hug with
Toes are to wiggle
Ears are to wiggle
This book is ideal for children ages 3-5, though I think youger children will like the rythm of it, and older children will laugh at the silliness, as they start to realize that definitions are not as simple as they once thought.