What’s a Dog For?

Maurice Sendak drawing in "A Hole is to Dig"
Maurice Sendak drawing in “A Hole is to Dig”

A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss (Harper & Brothers, 1952) was one of my favorite childhood books. I still have the well-worn copy I pored over as a child. Only a small child would wonder, “What’s a hole for?”—and only a small child would be completely satisfied with the tautology of the title’s answer. The book’s lasting appeal lies partly in the knowing innocence of its narrative structure (subtitled A First Book of First Definitions, the text dispenses entirely with the questions and jumps Jeopardy-style right to the answers), and more so in a young Maurice Sendak’s drawings of children and dogs cavorting. Krauss opines, “The world is so you have something to stand on.”; “A lap is so you don’t get crumbs n the floor.”; “Toes are to wiggle.”; and “Dogs are to kiss people.” Continue reading “What’s a Dog For?”