A Hole Is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions

A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss cover, several small sketches of children playing on an aqua background

Cover of A Hole is to Dig

By Ruth Krauss, Hamish Hamilton, 1963

A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of Definitions

Written by Ruth Krauss

Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

New York, Harper and Brothers, 1952

5.5" x 6.75"

Process and finished art

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

The inspiration for this small but consequential book came from Yale University child psychologist Arnold Gesell's observation that a five-year old "is a pragmatist. His definitions are in terms of use: A horse is to ride; a fork is to eat." In 1950, Ruth Krauss began collecting more such definitions—in part at the Bank Street School—and then invited the unknown young artist her publisher had paired her with to choose which definitions he wished to illustrate. A Hole Is to Dig became Maurice Sendak's breakthrough success and marked the start of a fruitful, decade-long collaboration with Krauss.


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A Hole Is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions