Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats was given a choice. The judge said, "You may go to jail, or you may go to Camp Green Lake." Stanley was from a poor family. He had never been to camp before.

Camp Green Lake has no lake. Also, nothing there is green. It's a camp where bad boys are sent to develop 'character.' Their sentence? To dig holes five feet wide and five feet deep, day after day. Stanley soon realizes two things: number one-that the Warden is looking for something; and number two-that Stanley knows where it is.

With a cast of characters like Zero, Armpit, Zigzag, and Magnet, this book has energy and humor that starts on the first page and doesn't stop.
The boys must learn to work together in an environment that is akin to a labor camp. It's a story of survival and friendship.
The author says that when she started writing this book, she began with the lake. As I read Holes, it did become clear that more attention was devoted toward the sensory detail than to the characters. Since I prefer books that explore emotion and pain, this was a little bit of a let-down. But not much. I think all children ages 9-12 will enjoy this book immensely. (And no, I haven't seen the movie yet.)
Holes won the Newberry Medal in 1999. I rate it very good.


Cheryl said...

I have to disagree with some of your thoughts on this book. I think it does a great job of exploring characters and the relationships between the boys at the camp are really well done. I love the themes of this book, the miracles that happen when the characters make true connections with eachother. I also love the cleverness of the story.

This is one of my favorite books of all time!

Church Lady said...

I'm so happy someone commented here!
I'm comparing the characterizations to some of Katherine Paterson's work (who holds the gold standard, imo!).
I think Sachar spent too much time on the story within the story (Kissing Kate legend) and not enough on the boys' reactions to what was happening.
I still love this book though. And it was awarded the Newbery. I'm reading it to my 7 year old right now.
It's fun to see other people's thoughts/opinions!!!

cyn said...

cL, thanks for the review! it sounds like a very original and different story. fun! tell us how your 7 year old likes it! wow, i can't imagine my bubs reading books on their own!

Church Lady said...

Thanks Cyn!
I still read to him. That gets him going. Then he reads for 15 minutes at a time, and I'll jump in sporadically.
He's liking it so far!

Maree A. said...

I can not praise this book enough because, among other things to recommend it, it got my then 10 year-old son actually reading fiction! His teacher started reading it aloud to the class, which was a composite Year 5/6 (9-11 yos). And it thoroughly engaged both boys and girls. Unfortunately my boy missed the last 2 chapters 'cuz he ended up in hospital and he was soooo disappointed that I bought him the book to read...on the proviso he read the entire thing himself. Which he did. And then his teacher let him borrow the DVD movie. Fantastic - we all watched it and loved it. I read the book, too, as did 12 yo daughter who's a very precocious reader. We both loved it. So I can thoroughly recommend Holes the book (and the movie!). BTW, it's got the best first chapter ;-).