Citation: Sachar, L. (1998). Holes. New York, NY: Yearling.
Summary: Young Stanley Yelnats IV finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. As it goes, there is an old family curse that dates back to his great great-grandfather who made a promise to a madam fortuneteller. This madam curse is for the family and affects all of the Stanley Yelnates for generations. When Stanley's wrong timing mishap gets him falsely accused and servicing time in a Camp Green Lake, he finds himself building relationships, some good and some not-so good and an adventure of uncovering a valuable treasure in his family’s past.
Impression: Love & Definite Read!
This is one story that I would love to read and re-read over again because it has stories that build upon stories and is very attention grabbing. Young readers will not be able to put this book down because it is just that good. One of my favorite parts is when the bad warden’s evil comes to. It’s always that happy ending when the bad guy gets what’s coming to them and the good guy finishes first! Not such a peaceful feeling is given while reading this one because of so much adventure how can one be so peaceful with such a happy ha, in-your-face ending!
Reviews: Gr 5-8 --Stanley Yelnats IV has been wrongly accused of stealing a famous baseball player's valued sneakers and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention home where the boys dig holes, live feet deep by live feet across, in the miserable Texas heat. It's just one more piece of bad luck that's befallen Stanley's family for generations as a result et the infamous curse of Madame Zeroni. Overweight Stanley, his hands bloodied from digging, figures that at the end of his sentence, he'll "...either be in great physical condition or else dead." Overcome by the useless work and his own feelings of futility, fellow inmate Zero runs away into the arid, desolate surroundings and Stanley, acting on impulse, embarks on a risky mission to save him. He unwittingly lays Madame Zeroni's curse to rest, finds buried treasure, survives yellow-spotted lizards, and gains wisdom and inner strength from the quirky turns of fate. In the almost mystical progress of their ascent of the rock edifice known as "Big Thumb," they discover their own invaluable worth and unwavering Friendship. Each of the boys is painted as a distinct individual through Sachar's deftly chosen words. The author's ability to knit Stanley and Zero's compelling story in and out of a history of intriguing, ancestors is captivating. Stanley's wit, integrity, faith, and wistful innocence will charm readers. A multitude of colorful characters coupled with the skillful braiding of ethnic folklore, American legend, and contemporary issues ix a brilliant achievement. There is no question, kids will love Holes.
Follos, A. (1998). Grades 5 & up: Fiction. School Library Journal, 44(9), 210.
This wry and loopy novel [Holes] about a camp for juvenile delinquents in a dry Texas desert (once the largest lake in the state) by the author of There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom and the Wayside School series has some serious undercurrents. Stanley Yelnats (appropriately enough for a story about reversals, the protagonist's name is a palindrome) gets sent to Camp Green Lake to do penance, "a camp for had boys." Never mind that Stanley didn't commit the crime he has been convicted of-he blames his bad luck on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great great-grandfather." He digs five-foot-deep holes with all the other "bad" boys under the baleful direction of the Warden, perhaps the most terrifying female since Big Nurse. Just when it seems as though this is going to be a weird YA cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke, the story takes off--along with Stanley, who flees camp after his buddy Zero--in a wholly unexpected direction to become a dazzling blend of social commentary; tall tale and magic realism. Readers (especially boys) will likely delight in the larger-than-life (truly Texas-style) manner in which Sachar fills in all the holes, as he ties together seemingly disparate story threads to dispel ghosts from the past and give everyone their just deserts. Ages 12-up.
Review of Holes. (2002). In S. Peacock (Ed.), Children's Literature Review (Vol. 79). Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, 1998, July 27, 245, 78)
Use in Library: -This book would be great to use with middle school aged students and in particular to target boys. It could be used as a read aloud, with a reading club or as a suggested personal read to students who enjoy adventure books. Being that the story builds upon other stories it is also a great read to suggest to reluctant readers.