With a loveable protagonist, colorful illustrations, and a happy ending, Diggy the Dog Explores Friendship offers an engaging story for young readers.
This rhyming picture book follows Diggy, an adventurous farm dog who crosses a rickety bridge over a fast-running river while out exploring one day—only to have the bridge collapse just as he reaches the other side. Stranded, he searches for help to get home.
He meets a beaver, moose, and bear, all of whom describe their talents and advantages (chopping wood, strong antlers and height, and strength, respectively), but can’t think of a way to help Diggy. Finally, alone and scared and still far from home, Diggy comes across an owl. The wise owl suggests that all of Diggy’s new friends work together to help. As a group, they’re able to push over a tree, which creates a sturdy enough bridge for Diggy to cross.
The story is compelling, and the illustrations are quirky and bright, with soft landscapes and wide-eyed animals that complement the whimsical text.
Readers will encounter a few problems, however. Although the narrative starts strong by setting up Diggy’s plight and endearing us to the animals he meets, the conclusion is less satisfying: Rather than working as a team to use their individual skills, already explained and caveated with so much care, the group employs brute strength to knock over a tree. This feels like a missed opportunity to discuss how our differences can be strengths.
Additionally, the story’s length and a smattering of complex diction (“encroaching,” “descend”) may make it somewhat challenging for early readers, and parents reading this aloud may stumble over frequent uneven rhymes (“THAM! Went the tree. The sound echoed all around/ The tree laid across the river, perfectly on the ground”).
Despite such issues, the book’s charming illustrations will draw readers in, and the story provides an enjoyable diversion along with a useful message about teamwork.