THE DIGGERS by Margaret Wise Brown


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 6
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For those unfamiliar with Brown's 1960 work, illustrated by Clement Hurd originally and welcomed in these pages, it is a book in verse--half of it rhymed, half not--about digging. The first pages, devoted to animal and human diggers, are written in a simple, repetitive style, like children's counting games. The text then shifts into a more elevated mode, as an unstoppable steam shovel moves from city to country and through a mountain, building a railroad. This steam shovel is the hero of the story, and the moral is: There's nothing it can't do. Both the industrial theme and its heroic overtones ("And then came the big digger made by a man...") are reminiscent of socialist realism. Kirk's oil illustrations, in perfect balance with the text, follow a parallel development, beginning with close-ups of toy-like animals, and moving to anonymous workers in sweeping landscapes. These landscapes--multi-colored and painstakingly detailed--take in an enormous amount of geography in the background, while the steam shovel or the train in the foreground reach gigantic proportions. However, their epic breadth--of man's building abilities and the unlimited possibilities of the future--has a distinctive softness, both in the shapes and colors used. It is technology with a human face in this utterly modern revisitation of a classic--even as it blithely bypasses ecological concerns. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7868-0006-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995


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