Skip to main content

Phoebe & Digger by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Jeff Newman

There are more than a few reasons to love Phoebe & Digger by Tricia Springstubb and illustrated by Jeff Newman. Fist, Phoebe & Digger is a book about a little girl and her truck in which a girl playing with a truck is no big deal. I realize that little girls play with trucks all the time and have been for a couple of decades now, but there are so few picture books that depict little girls playing with trucks that it is worth pointing out. Also, and I realize that this is changing (at a glacial pace) as well, but I also think it's worth noting that Phoebe has brown skin. But, the greatest thing about Phoebe & Digger is that it's not a book about a girl with a truck or a girl with brown skin, it's a book about siblings and bullies.

Phoebe & Digger begins, "When Mama got a new baby . . . Phoebe got a new digger. Mama and the baby were always busy. So were Phoebe and Digger." Mama decides it's time to go to the park where Phoebe and Digger get into a bit of trouble. Phoebe and Digger develop a little bit of attitude at the playground and they make a little boy cry. Soon it seems everyone on the playground except Phoebe is crying.  

But the tables turn when a "big girl with mean teeth" decides that she wants to play with Digger and doesn't want to have to ask. Phoebe tries using her words with this big girl, but she is really mean. And a name caller. Phoebe finds herself about to cry when Mama arrives and saves the day.

There are plenty of books that try to capture quintessential childhood experience, from the frustrations of sharing to the excitement of getting an ice cream in the park. Most of these books fall flat in their attempts to be universal and appealing, mostly because being universal and appealing is boring.  What is memorable and worthwhile about Phoebe & Digger are the differences that make it standout - the little girl with her digger, the crybaby boy in the sandbox and the angry pigtails on the big mean girl (who appears in other spots around the playground tormenting other small children). These are the qualities of the book that will give your children pause, ten or twenty years from now, when they turn to a friend and ask, "Do you remember that book from when we were kids with the little girl and her truck?"

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…