6 Theories on the Ending of Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
If you haven’t read Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, you might not want to read this post yet.
But definitely read Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (out October 14). It’s a great book. It has some excellent broad humor, as well as one heck of a challenging ending that will make readers think. Really, one of the best open-ended picture book conclusions in recent memory. I will now present six theories on what exactly happens at the end of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, from least likely to most likely.
Theory #1: The Dog is Jesus Theory
In this theory, the dog that accompanies Sam and Dave is Jesus, trying to lead the boys in the right direction (notice that the dog is always pointing the way to reach the jewels), yet they don’t listen and end up missing the precious stones every time. Thus when the dog/Jesus digs down at the end of the book, the boys land in purgatory. Oh, and what’s that on the first page of the book? An apple tree? *cue crazy guy voice* GARDEN OF EDEN ANYONE?!
Theory #2: The Truman Show-esque Civilization Theory
The boys fall into an underground world built to resemble their own. The only problem? The details are off. Basically, if you’ve seen the movie The Truman Show, it’s exactly like that. The sky isn’t the sky – it’s a giant dome with lighting orchestrated by Ed Harris. The cat is an actor cat. Sam and Dave have entered a giant reality show. Proponents of the Mount Weather conspiracy (who believe there is a shadow government operating in a mountain in Virginia) will likely be drawn to this interpretation.
Theory #3: The Epic Journey Theory
In this scenario (credit to my wife for this one), the boys return to the exact same place they started, but their epic journey of digging (as epic journeys tend to do) forever changed how they see the world. Hence the “same, yet different” vibe of the house and yard at the end.
Theory #4: The Other Side of the World Theory
This might be one of the most difficult theories to make sense of, yet it seems fairly plausible. Sam and Dave dug through the earth, and the reason things look slightly different at the end is because they are different. It’s the other side of the world.
Theory #5: The ‘It Was All a Dream, Man’ Theory
What happens to the boys right before the craziest part of the book? They fall asleep in the hole. If TV, movies, and books have taught me anything, it’s that if a character falls asleep and crazy stuff starts happening, it might be a dream. Also supporting this theory is the fact that the boys go from filthy clothes to slightly less filthy clothes as they fall and land in the yard.
Theory #6: The Alternate Reality Theory
I’m guessing this is the one most kids and adults will arrive at. It’s the theory that seems the most likely to me. When Sam and Dave dig deep enough, they don’t end up on the other side of the world, but in an alternate reality. This parallel world concept makes sense when you see how the house and yard at the end are almost exactly the same. The could also be called The Another World Theory.
BONUS: Theory #7: The ‘They Both Die at the End’ Theory
This theory puts forth the notion that maybe we’re overthinking everything here. In this scenario, Sam and Dave die in the hole, and the falling scene begins the afterlife.
EXTRA BONUS: Theory #8: The Reader is the Dog
See Eric Carpenter’s comment below.
What do you say? Add your own theory, or defend/dispel one of mine in the comments.
Watch the Sam & Dave Dig a Hole book Trailer:
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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