cover image DIG!


David Clemesha, Andrea Griffing Zimmerman, , illus. by Marc Rosenthal. . Harcourt/Silver Whistle, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-216785-1

The husband-and-wife writing team behind Trashy Town here offers a cheerful look at a day in the life of Mr. Rally, who drives a big yellow backhoe and "loves to dig in the dirt. So does his dog, Lightning!" As the authors describe this hardworking duo's agenda, which entails performing five separate jobs, the text reinforces counting skills by reiterating numbers, presented as words as well as numerals. At each numbered construction site, a pithy description of the task at hand unfolds ("Two is a drain for the rain"; "Five is a zoo, all brand-new"), followed by a rhyming refrain that conveys the heroes' joy in the work they do ("Dig up rock and dig up clay!/ Dig up dirt and dig all day!"). After each task come accolades for both the backhoe driver and his pooch ("Good job, Mr. Rally! Good job, Lightning!"); and a question that invites readers to join in the response ("Is all the digging done? No!"). Rendered in ink outlines, shaded with watercolors and colored pencil—and fittingly featuring an earth-toned palette—Rosenthal's (The Absentminded Fellow ) simple, good-humored art harks back to classic picture books with the appealing old-fashioned feel of Margaret Bloy Graham or Virginia Lee Burton. The artist serves up some endearing images of the loyal Lightning, scarf tied around his neck, sniffing out and digging up a bone at each site, and an uplifting ending rewards the heroes and readers at the close of a hard day's work. Preschool boys will especially dig this book, which makes a jaunty read-loud. A job—or five—well done. Ages 2-5. (May)