reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

Hush Little Digger, It’s Still So Early

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Mornings are still not as they should be in our house, and this Saturday morning my husband took the first shift (5:15-5:45), and I took the second (5:45-6:15). After a drink of milk and a diaper my son and I arrived in the family room, and he was more interested in his Matchbox cars than his books. I am incapable of zooming, vrooming and crashing before 7 a.m., so I sat on the floor next to him and read books. I went through most of our regulars, but the cars were cooler until I picked up Hush Little Digger by Ellen Olson-Brown with illustrations by Lee White (Tricycle Press, 2006).

Every Christmas my sister-in-law gives each of my kids a book. She writes a lovely inscription inside the front cover. This one began, “Dear Baby Buddy,” (a nickname). “Boys will be boys, and you are definitely our little man…” At the time he was three months old and still more baby than boy, but today when I read him Hush Little Digger, he was all boy, no baby.

“wuv-el!” he pointed at the shovel.

“uh uh uh,” he laugh-grunted and pointed at the worms.

“ooooooooh!” he delighted in the digger.

I read it once, slammed the book shut for emphasis as my Dad trained me to do and announced: “the end.”

“More!”

“Again?” I asked.

“wuv-el!” “uh uh uh!” “oooooooh!”

“The end!”

“More!”

We read the book in its entirely three times before my son crawled down off my lap and went back to his cars.

To be correct, I sang the book three times before my son crawled down off my lap and went back to his cars.

This book is written to the tune of “Hush Little Baby,” and it is impossible to “read” it. It must be sung, and for me, sung in my finest southern drawl (there is no good reason for this. It…just…happens).

On the first spread a boy and his dad stand with a shovel and pile of dirt, and the text reads, “Hush, little digger, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna scoop you a pile of dirt. And if that dirt starts to overflow,”

Turn the page:

“Papa’s gonna find you a red backhoe. And if that backhoe has a bad motor,”

And so on. Instead of a mockingbird, a golden ring, we get a dump truck and an asphalt paver.

There are places where the rhythm and the rhyme aren’t perfect, but I haven’t chosen this book as a favorite because of its literary merit. I’ve chosen it because it delights my kids.

Back when Baby Buddy was still baby, not boy, my daughter commandeered his Christmas present, demanding that I sing it to her over and over and over again. As I’ve mentioned before she can memorize anything that rhymes (yesterday I taped her reciting Little Blue Truck Leads the Way), and from time to time I would catch her signing, “Papa’s gonna find you a big dump truck. And if that dump truck shakes quiver-quaver, [page turn] “Papa’s gonna find you an asphalt paver…” while she was on the john or “reading” a book off the big kid shelf. Whoever knew that The DaVinci Code was about concrete crushers, little yellow goslings and babies dancing the polka.

My daughter also loves that at the end we see the little boy and his daddy in a sandbox, with all of the toys that we now realize have been the inspiration for their imaginative adventures with trucks, cherry-pickers, etc. I’ve written about busses and zoos. Kids love sandboxes, too.

Hush Little Digger is a winner for boys and girls, at least in our house.

Picture Book House Rating: Sing It Again, Mommy! “Ok, Ya’ll!”

It’s 7:15 now. I’ve had a cup of coffee. Time to go join my little digger and his daddy, playing cars.

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