Title: The Digger and the Flower
Author/Illustrator: Joseph Kuefler
Age Group: 2-6
Synopsis: Digger is fine in his day to day life until he discovers something that needs his help.
There are all sorts of courage: facing a dragon, jumping out of an airplane, fighting a fire. But I think sometimes the strongest sort of bravery comes from going against the norm. When you break from your friends to embark on a new journey or change your view from something that the collective previously agreed on, it always threatens to rock a few boats. But that’s what we want for our children, to be able to have the backbone to stand against the tide for what’s right. It’s something we have to model ourselves and provide examples of and Joseph Kuefler does a great job of presenting this theme in a completely relateable tale in The Digger and the Flower.
The early blank pages of this book are soon filled by Digger, Dozer, and Crane as they endeavour to build, build, build the city. Bridges, buildings, streets, nothing is too big. These industrious vehicles work until the whistle blows each day. But one day Digger notices something. A flower is growing amongst the rubble. While Dozer and Crane continue on with their work, Digger stops to water the flower and protect it from the elements. He even sings to it as he gets ready for bed. But as the demand for space increases, so too does the danger to the flower. Until one day it is run over by Dozer, as Digger helplessly protests. It’s then Digger notices the seeds. He takes them far far away from the city, plants, and cares for them. We’re left with an uplifting image of even more flowers growing closer and closer to the city.
Kuelfer uses a utilitarian dot and hatch system, sprinkled with the rare glimpses of color for the settings. Dozer, Crane, Digger and the flower are the major exceptions to this rule, allowing them to pop and be easily identifiable for young ones. The three main characters fit into their setting through shape. It’s clear from their boxy-like appearance that they are not organic beings in tune with nature. In fact their edges are so sharp that it’s not surprising that they possess the personalities they do. However, here too Kuefler presents a thoughtful integration of context, for the faces on each vehicles are so expressive that this makes them instantly readable to young ones. It is through the simplicity of these illustrations that Kuefler’s message is allowed to truly shine.
Digger finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right but also leaves his home, friends, and everything he has known behind in order to allow something beautiful to survive. He gives up everything to take care of this flower and it’s later descendants. It’s a fabulous example for Bug and Peanut because courage can come in different shapes and sizes. Digger’s is a quiet and simple courage, born of love. That’s a strength that many parents can relate to.
- Discuss the emotions displayed by each of the vehicles and how that effects their actions.
- This is also a prime time to talk about what is needed for a flower to grow and how do your young ones think the flowers end up so close to the city at the end of the book.
I need more!
We love Joseph Kuefler. Check out my review on Beyond the Pond for more information about him and his books.