Friday, October 4, 2013

PPBF: Phoebe & Digger

TitlePhoebe & Digger
Author/Illustrator: Tricia Springstubb/ Jeff Newman
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2013
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 3-7
Themes: New baby, problem solving, bullies

Opening: "When Mama got a new baby... Phoebe got a new digger."

Synopsis: (from Booklist)
Furious and feeling displaced by her new baby brother, Phoebe is thrilled with her new gift of a digger truck toy, and she has fun with it, shoveling at home, in the park, and even, finally, with the baby. With just a few spare words on each page, this story is told mostly in the characters’ body language, and the digitally touched images, created with watercolor, ink, gouache, and marker, show Phoebe first scowling as Mama plays with the baby, and then smiling with her new “pet” digger. She is scared when a bully grabs the digger, but Mama steps in, and finally, Phoebe, with her toy, reaches out to stroke her brother and comfort him when he cries. The sibling rivalry adds a new lively twist for fans of Virginia Lee Burton’s classic Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939). Preschool. --Hazel Rochman

Why I Love This Book

When I picked up this book at the library, I assumed this was an old book. The illustrations are reminiscent of the classic Little Golden Books. But the cover also has three elements that defy that era of children's books: the protagonist is female, she is not caucasian, and she wants to play with a "boy toy". I was intrigued.

Phoebe is jealous. Her baby brother is taking all of her mama's attention. She tries to get her mama's attention by acting out with Digger. What child (and parent) can't relate to that? The book goes deeper than sibling jealousy, though, when Phoebe has to learn how to be a considerate playmate and how to deal with a bully. Ultimately, she learns that her mama is always there for her.

The story is simple, timeless, and incredibly accessible. It is a new favorite in our house!

Preschool Story Hour Kit from Candlewick Press

TinyDiggers App: Game lets kids drive diggers and learn basic concepts, like shapes, colors, and numbers.

About Bullying: Videos and games for kids

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.


  1. Good lessons to learn in this book, Laura. . .thanks for sharing!

  2. I won this book from the author's blog this summer and almost reviewed it this week. Great minds think alike! I was also intrigued by the refreshing lack of stereotyping. Nice choice.

  3. Sounds like there's a lot packed into this title! I'm off to the library tonight, maybe they'll have a copy!

  4. What an important book about sibling rivalry, especially with the arrival of a new baby. Great book for new moms. Love it that the girl gets a truck.

  5. Wow, this looks interesting. I like how the author has picked a "non-girly" toy for Phoebe to play with.

  6. I like the sound of all the elements of this book. a girl that's not a princess, "boy" toys for said girl, sibling rivalry and a Mom who can fix it all. Sounds good to me!

  7. I laughed at Reading with rhythm's comment. She says it all. It sounds great! :)

  8. Yep! I'll go along with rhythm's comment. Great choice Laura!

  9. Love the cover...the girl with her new digger! The book sounds really cute. Thanks for the review.

  10. It's always great to have new twists on new baby books! Thanks for adding this one to our list, Laura - it looks great :)