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A Hole is to Dig
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A Hole is to Dig

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,973 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
What is a hole?
A hole is when you step in it
you go down

A hole is
for a mouse
to live in.

And, of course, a hole is to dig.

This is the funniest book
of definitions you'll ever read!
Paperback, 48 pages
Published September 7th 1989 by HarperCollins (first published June 1st 1952)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baby-books
I read all these old-timey books when I was a kid - this is from 1952 - and came away with all these ideas like, for example, that trains are for wearing bonnets on. (This turns out not to be the case.) But I also learned that

and that is true.
Heidi Draffin
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I looked at the 1-3 star reviews of Ruth Krauss' book here, at Amazon, Library Thing etc. A handful of people hate this book flat out...I suspect but do not know that they never made castles out of their Golden Books or gasped at night as they stared into the night sky and thought about how truly small they were as a speck on the crust of a planet spinning around in the universal equivalent of the back 40 of a single galaxy. Others seemed to have been charmed by a phrase or Sendak's drawings and ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Cait
My favorite "A lap is so you don't get crumbs on the floor." In my real life (This one, where I am a part-time legal secretary, sleeping in my sister's closet, can't be it.) I write little books like this, with small black and white drawings, in collaboration with children. Charming, playful, and honest. I am having difficulty returning it to the library.
Remarkably funny considering it was written in 1952 before funny existed. The illustrations by Maurice Sendak are, of course, fabulous and the text is, too.

"A tablespoon is to eat a table with"
This small book with its celery green cover and whimsical but simple drawings is a must-have for the adult with young children. My 1969 copy has fanciful black and white penned drawings with barn-red ink to describe what is going on. I understand that Ms. Krauss had children make suggestions and revisions before completing this little novelty. And with the exception of one minor issue with matches, the content is still up-to-date.

Anyone with young ones will realize in a heartbeat that the wordag
Lisa Vegan
I learned that this book existed over at a discussion of a childhood favorite of mine: A Friend is Someone Who Likes You. This book was published in 1952 and I’m surprised that I don’t remember it as a part of my childhood, but I believe this is the first time I’ve read it.

It’s one I think I’d have enjoyed a lot more as a kid, especially as a kid in the 1950s. But, I did find it charming in its own way.

My favorite page was “Dogs are to kiss people” because how could I not fall in love with a pag
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
the subtitle a first book of first definitions could be misleading and i can certainly understand the few "i dont get it" reviews on here. with a simple glance, there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to the "definitions" krauss has put on these pages - but that is exactly why i love it.

for example: "a watch is to hear it tick" and right below it "dishes are to do" - these dictums or philosophies (as it could very well be) are random, simple, and merely a child's truth. they convey the i
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I know, I know - this is a classic book for young people, and one that was even available WHEN I WAS A KID! Nevertheless, I hadn't read it before. It obviously has no plot, just a series of fanciful definitions accompanied by the first children's illustrations of Maurice Sendak. I was intrigued by some of the side things going on - odd animals and characters at the sides of pages, the diminution of traditional, restrictive manners lessons in favor of more enjoyable ("Hands are to hold" over "A h ...more
Dec 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is one of the books I read at the Maurice Sendak exhibition in the Comtemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. There is a story that the words tell, and there are also layered stories in the accompanying illustrations. Even for books that he illustrates and does not author, Sendak enhances the rich texture of the text. Most of his stories and illustrations deal with the horror of the holocaust.

This book is simple at face value and deep at the same time. It tells children what things can be u
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best pictures books I've ever seen. It can be quite poetic, deep and philosophical. I've been wanting to read it for about 5 years now!

The ground is to make a garden.
Hands are to hold. Arms are to hug with.
A castle is to build in the sand.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
For many many months now you have enjoyed parceling out pieces of cake to your reader, yourself, and those in adjacent rooms when you get to the party page. You also love the parade and the jumping in the mud page.
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Rugs are so dogs have napkins. A book is to look at. A tablespoon is to eat a table with. A face is something to have on the front of your head.

I love, love, love this! I will have to buy this one, to borrow it is not enough.
John Beeler
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"The world is so you have something to stand on."

"The sun is so it can be a great day."

Cosi loves doing the actions associated with the definitions ("noses are to rub" or "ears are to wiggle."). I have never grown tired of reading this.
Suzi Baum
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. Ever.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this on the recommendation of Robert Anton Wilson - a collection of words defined by children too young to have been assimilated into semantic conventions.
Michael David
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I am going to read children's books in between my Erich Fromm books, philosophy, and weighty fiction. Because while a book holds much information, it is also 'to look at.'
Rosemary Sullivan
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young children and families, students of children's literature
"Mud is to jump in and slide in and yell doodleedoodleedoo," according to"A Hole Is To Dig: A First Book Of First Definitions," by Ruth Krauss, with pictures by Maurice Sendak. After reading that sentence, I thought,"Why haven't I done that?" Of course that's what mud is for. All along I've been thinking it's this messy nuisance that I try to avoid.

This book is a celebration of life, from the viewpoint of children, whom Ms. Krauss interviewed for the book. In the acknowledgements, she writes,"Th
Kat Masek
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maurice Sendak illustrated this "First Book of First Definitions," which was first published in 1952. The book is enchanting, witty, poignant, hilarious, and philosophical. I dip into it often, just to take renewed--or first-time--delight in a particular pairing of Sendak's unmistakable black drawings and the accompanying sepia text, all so simply presented.

I display my little 5-by-6 1/2-inch paperback copy among the objects most beautiful to me: rocks, raku pottery, barnacles, abalone shells, f
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I LOVE this book. It is hand-sized, so may not be the best choice for a story time. It has no story line. About six pages in is the page illustrating "A hole is to dig". Read this page and perhaps a few others and move on to another book. In my opinion, this is a MUST HAVE book.

If using this with the theme "Imagination Express", feature the letter "i" in your display and for a craft make "imagination caps". I often prep young children for the first story in a program by reciting and doing action
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every time I read this and its companion books I fall in love with little children all over again. And I want to be a little child again, and never grow up, not even to be as old as Peter Pan. Krauss does a marvelous job of editing, while remaining, clearly, obviously true to the children's voices.

This time I'm thinking about the artwork. Sendak made the children fairly generic. I can't tell if he's drawn about half a dozen kids over & over, or if each is meant to be unique... but in any cas
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Now this is a jewel! The cover looks kind of boring and too busy, but the pages inside are a great mix of simple bits of text with detailed happenings going on, drawn by Maurice Sendak. For example, one page says "Snow is to roll in" with a little "Buttons are to keep people warm" written in the corner, all showing a bunch of kids out in the snow. Lots to look at if someone wants to take the time. There's also a lot of play with the different ways things can be "for" something else, e.g:

Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, humor
Funny, cute definitions to words. The pictures are by Maurice Sendak. Our favorite definition was "A floor is so you don't fall in the hole your house is in."

I liked and agreed with this quote from the back flap of the cover:

Ruth Krauss is the author of many children's favorites. To quote Elementary English: "A Ruth Krauss book is to look at over and over again, to quote from and laugh at and talk about, and hug lovingly and drop off to sleep with."

We've also read "The Backward Day" an
Rodrigo Ferrao
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Publicado pela Kalandraka, este livro reforça uma mensagem positiva sobre várias funções das coisas, ilustrando situações e para que servem.
Com desenhos de outro grande génio, Maurice Sendak, Ruth Krauss conta as 'primeiras explicações' de tudo, para as crianças. Percebemos para que serve uma cova, um irmão, o puré de batata e, por fim, para que servem os livros.
Um livro carregado de pequenos pensamentos muito positivos, com vários momentos de humor (dados pelo texto e pelo desenho) e alguns t
There is really no basic rhyme or reason to this book. I think it's just for sheer entertainment for children. Great Sendak pictures which can keep children occupied a few minutes on some pages. Some randomly thrown in humor, which I guess corresponds with a child's random brain flow? I don't think this should be considered one of the top 100 Children's books, but it's also not one to pass just because it's old and leaves at least this adult going "huh..."
Katie Fitzgerald
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This classic book of definitions tells us what things are really for. This comes up in my library's catalog under the category of philosophy, and I actually think that's accurate.

Read at Read-Along Story Time on 6/13/13:
Shawn Thrasher
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to do my best to capture the essence of this lovely book in a few words: simple, sincere, humorous, subtly wise. A good picture book does all of these things, a great picture book does them all without slapping you in the face. This was one of Sendak's first books (as illustrator; his authorship of books is a few year in the future). The joy of the book is infectious.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I just love Ruth Krauss, and Maurice Sendak's illustrations in this one remind me of his "Really Rosie", one of my favorites as a kid. I love the way Ruth looks at ordinary things here and sees the silly or the kid-logic: "Toes are to dance on/ Eyebrows are to go over your eyes.... a tablespoon is to eat a table with". This will be fun for a quickie writing exercise with kids!
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This was one of my favorite books growing up. I remember getting it from the library over and over again. My mom had no idea why I liked it so much. She did eventually end up buying it for me and I'm sure I still have it somewhere. I recently bought it as a gift my my cousin and read it again. There really is no reason to the story, but it's cute and fun.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
I never really cared for this book until I heard it discussed sopmewhere, NPR, probably. When I learned that the author culled all the definitions from a "kids say the darndest things" type of nursery school experience, I became enchanted. "Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough" Why, yes. Yes, they are. "The world is so you have something to stand on"
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
"A hole is to dig"
"Arms are to hug with"
"The world is so you have something to stand on"
"A lap is so you don't get crumbs on the floor"

This is the sort of book I wish I had written. I love how she turns definitions on their heads. This would be a great book for kids to write their own definitions following her pattern. Maurice Sendak's pictures are delightful.
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