Diggy the Dog Explores Friendship is lovable for its example of asking for help and finding friends in the bargain.
In Adam Loveless’s frolicsome picture book, a dog who’s stranded on the wrong side of a river bank finds his way home through teamwork.
Diggy crosses a dilapidated bridge that breaks. With no way back to his farm, he looks for help. He meets a beaver who’d take too long to build a new bridge; a clumsy moose with poor eyesight; a bear who can’t swim; and an owl who is too small. All of them are kind, though they can’t help Diggy on their own. But when they band together, they’re able to push a tree until it falls across the water to form a new path home.
Its message encouraging and familiar, this is a story about the power of groups. It unfolds through the time-honored pattern of having the main character explain his situation to each new character he meets. This is a reassuring structure, calibrating the conflict so that it’s worrisome but not dire; it’s no surprise when Diggy reaches home.
Elena Kochetova’s illustrations are a sound marriage of soft woodland backgrounds and wacky characters. Diggy is all slapstick limbs that fly akimbo. His frenetic energy and panic are telegraphed through his expressions; his wolfish snout and gap-toothed grin are charming. Details that go beyond the text, from a moose’s leg that’s stuck in a jam jar to hulking proportions for the bear who uses trees to weight lift, dial up the visual comedy and alleviate the fear that’s inherent in being lost.
Cartoon eyes and floating eyebrows give the animals an appealing misfit air; Diggy’s new friends are as unique as he is, and it’s delightful to watch him find support. They all possess strengths and weakness, making the suggestion that they’re better off together credible.
Rhymes range from clever, such as “bridge/damage,” to constructions that break the book’s read-aloud flow. Some lines are wordier than necessary, particularly where the artwork already invigorates the characters’ actions enough.
The uplifting picture book Diggy the Dog Explores Friendship is lovable for its example of asking for help and finding friends in the bargain.
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