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Louis Sachar has written an exceptionally funny, and heart-rending, shaggy dog story of his own. With its breadth and ambition, Holes may surprise a lot of Sachar fans, but it shouldn't. With his Wayside School stories and-this reviewer's favorite -- the Marvin Redpost books, Sachar has shown himself a writer of humor and heart, with an instinctive aversion to the expected. Holes is filled with twists in the lane, moments when the action is happily going along only to turn toward somewhere else that you gradually, eventually, sometimes on the last page, realize was the truest destination all along.
The book begins, "There is no lake at Camp Green Lake," and we are immediately led into the mystery at the core of the story: "There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas." We soon learn that there is no camp here either, not really, only a boys' detention facility to which our hero, Stanley Yelnats, is headed. Stanley has been convicted of stealing a pair of shoes donated by baseball great Clyde Livingston to a celebrity auction. The fact that Stanley didn't steal the shoes, that indeed they fell from the sky onto his head, is disbelieved by the judge, and even deemed immaterial by Stanley, who blames the whole misadventure on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!" -- a favorite family mantra. And as the book goes on to show, with great finesse and a virtuoso's display of circularity in action, Stanley is right. His destiny is as palindromic as his name.
We soon learn about that pig-stealing great-great-grandfather and the curse that has haunted Stanley's family, even though the hapless elder Yelnats, like Stanley, didn't steal anything, and the curse is more of an ordination, a casting of the die. Stanley's great-grandfather found his place in the pattern when he encountered Kissing Kate Barlow, nee Miss Katherine Barlow, who became a ruthless outlaw of the Wild West when her love for Sam, the Onion Man, became cause for small-town opprobrium-and murder. Miss Barlow's recipe for spiced peaches also plays a large part in the story. Heck, it all plays a large part in the story. Those peaches show up more than a century after they were canned, and their efficacy remains unchallenged. Just like Sam's onions. Just like the lullaby, sung, with telling variations, by the Yelnats clan:
"If only, if only," the woodpecker sighs,
"The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies."
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely, Crying to the moo-oo-oon,"If only, if only."
As for the title: when Stanley gets to Camp Green Lake, he discovers that every day each boy, each inmate, must dig a hole five feet by five feet by five feet. (Why? Too bad you can't ask Kissing Kate Barlow.) Stanley makes a friend, Zero (nicknamed thus because this is exactly what the world finds him to be), with whom he eventually escapes the camp. These boys have a date with destiny and, trust me, it has everything to do with the pig, Kissing Kate, the lullaby, the peaches, the onions...even the sneakers. Sachar is masterful at bringing his realistic story and tall-tale motifs together, using a simple declarative style -- 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. -- that is all the more poignant, and funny, for its understatement, its willingness to stay out of the way. We haven't seen a book with this much plot, so suspensefully and expertly deployed, in too long a time. And the ending will make you cheer -- for the happiness the Yelnats family finally finds -- and cry, for the knowledge of how they lost so much for so long, all in the words of a lullaby. Louis Sachar has long been a great and deserved favorite among children, despite the benign neglect of critics. But Holes is witness to its own theme: what goes around, comes around. Eventually.
Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles. Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure.
"A dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred
"There is no question, kids will love Holes."—School Library Journal, Starred
Stanley Yelnats was the only passenger on the bus, not counting the driver or the guard. The guard sat next to the driver with his seat turned around facing Stanley. A rifle lay across his lap.
Stanley was sitting about ten rows back, handcuffed to his armrest. His backpack lay on the seat next to him. It contained his toothbrush, toothpaste, and a box of stationary his mother had given him. He’d promised to write to her at least once a week.
He looked out the window, although there wasn’t much to see—mostly fields of hay and cotton. He was on a long bus ride to nowhere. The bus wasn’t air-conditioned, and the hot heavy air was almost as stifling as the handcuffs.
Stanley and his parents had tried to pretend that he was just going away to camp for a while, just like rich kids do. When Stanley was younger he used to play with stuffed animals, and pretend the animals were at camp. Camp Fun and Games he called it. Sometimes he’d have them play soccer with a marble. Other times they’d run an obstacle course, or go bungee jumping off a table, tied to broken rubber bands. Now Stanley tried to pretend he was going to Camp Fun and Games. Maybe he’d make some friends, he thought. At least he’d get to swim in the lake.
He didn’t have any friends at home. He was overweight and the kids at his middle school often teased him about his size. Even his teachers sometimes made cruel comments without realizing it. On his last day of school, his math teacher, Mrs. Bell, taught ratios. As an example, she chose the heaviest kid in the class and the lightest kid in the class, and had them weigh themselves. Stanley weighed three times as much as the other boy. Mrs. Bell wrote the ratio on the board, 3:1, unaware of how much embarrassment she had caused both of them.
Stanley was arrested later that day.
He looked at the guard who sat slumped in his seat and wondered of he had fallen asleep. The guard was wearing sunglasses, so Stanley couldn’t see his eyes.
Stanley was not a bad kid. He was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He’d just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!
He smiled. It was a family joke. Whenever anything went wrong, they always blamed Stanley’s no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!
Supposedly, he had a great-great-grandfather who had stolen a pig from one-legged Gypsy, and she put a curse on him and all his descendants. Stanley and his parents didn’t believe in curses, of course, but whenever anything went wrong, it felt good to be able to blame someone.
Things went wrong a lot. They always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He looked out the window at the vast emptiness. He watched the rise and fall of a telephone wire. In his mind he could hear his father’s gruff voice softly singing to him.
“If only, if only,” the woodpecker sighs,
“The bark on the tree was just a little bit softer.”
“While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
He cries to the moo–oo–oon,
“If only, if only.”
It was a song his father used to sing to him. The melody was sweet and sad, but Stanley’s favorite part was when his father would howl the word “moon”.
The bus hit a small bump and the guard sat up, instantly alert.
Stanley’s father was an inventor. To be a successful inventor you need three things: intelligence, perseverance, and just a little bit of luck.
Stanley’s father was smart and had a lot of perseverance. Once he started a project he would work on it for years, often going days without sleep. He just never had any luck.
Every time an experiment failed, Stanley could hear him cursing his dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.
Stanley’s father was also named Stanley Yelnats. Stanley’s father’s full name was Stanley Yelnats III. Our Stanley is Stanley Yelnats IV.
Everyone in his family had always liked the fact that “Stanley Yelnats” was spelled the same frontward and backward. So they kept naming their sons Stanley. Stanley was an only child, as was every other Stanley Yelnats before him.
All of them had something else in common. Despite their awful luck, they always remained hopeful. As Stanley’s father liked to say, “ I learned from failure.”
But perhaps that was part of the curse as well. If Stanley and his father weren’t always hopeful, then it wouldn’t hurt so much every time their hopes were crushed.
“Not every Stanley Yelnats has been a failure,” Stanley’s mother often pointed out, whenever Stanley or his father became so discouraged that they actually started to believe in the curse. The first Stanley Yelnats, Stanley’s great-grandfather, had made a fortune in the stock market. “He couldn’t have been too unlucky.”
At such times she neglected to mention the bad luck that befell the first Stanley Yelnats. He lost his entire fortune when he was moving from New York to California. His stagecoach was robbed by the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow.
If it weren’t for that, Stanley’s family would now be living in a mansion on a beach in California. Instead, they were crammed in a tiny apartment that smelled of burning rubber and foot odor.
“If only, if only….
The apartment smelled the way it did because Stanley’s father was trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. “The first person who finds a use for old sneakers, “ he said, “will be a very rich man.”
It was this lastest project that led to Stanley’s arrest.
The bus ride became increasingly bumpy because the road was no longer paved.
Actually, Stanley had been impressed when he first found out that is great-grandfather was robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow. True, he would have preferred living on the beach in California, but it was still kind of cool to have someone in your family robbed by a famous outlaw.
Kate Barlow didn’t actually kiss Stanley’s great-grandfather. That would have been really cool, but she only kissed the men she killed. Instead, she robbed him and left him stranded in the middle of the desert.
“He was lucky to have survived,” Stanley’s mother was quick to point out.
The bus was slowing down. The guard grunted as he stretched out his arms.
“Welcome Camp Green Lake,” said the driver.
Stanley looked out the dirty window. He couldn’t see a lake.
And hardly anything was green.
Posted October 23, 2008
If you are, you would be at Camp Green Lake with Stanley, Zero, Armpit, Magnet, Mr.Pendanski and Mr.Sir. All the boys at camp are forced to dig five feet deep holes in the heat of Texas! This is supposed to improve how you choose to act instead of acting in a terrible way. These boys have to survive digging seven holes, five feet deep, each and everyday! Go into the past with all these boys. Stanley is a boy that is sent to Camp Green Lake for a reason that he does not know. Zero is a little boy who does not know how to read or write. Mr.Sir and Mr.Pendaski are the owners of the camp, along with the Warden. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves adventure. I am like Stanley because we both love adventure. When Mr.Sir was hurt, it reminded of the time when Megan fell down off a mountain, I felt scared. When I heard the ending, I wanted to reread the book. This is a page turning story with adventures waiting on every page!¿
73 out of 101 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2009
"Holes" is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats who was arrested and sent to Camp Green Lake, a camp for bad boys who committed crimes, after being accused of stealing a pair of shoes from an orphanage.
Stanley's family believes that their bad luck is because of Stanley's no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, who stole a pig from a one-legged Gypsy, and she put a spell on him and his family that would cause them bad luck. Stanley is caught with shoes that were stolen from an orphanage and is arrested and given the choice of going to jail or Camp Green Lake. Stanley chose the camp. In this camp, the bad boys have to dig seven holes, five feet deep, everyday. While at camp, Stanley meets Armpit, a big boy who doesn't bathe, X-Ray, a boy who says that he can see inside people, Zero, a very quiet boy who doesn't talk to anyone, and many others. Stanley learns the legend about Kissin' Kate Barlow, a woman who kisses each man that she kills, and about the treasure that is buried somewhere in the lake. Stanley and his new friend Zero make their way to "God's Thumb", a large mountain shaped as a thumb and soon learn the truth about the camp.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure and surprise endings. This book is exciting and fun that will make you want to read it again and again.
I really loved this book. It was a great adventure to read.
I give this book 4 stars because it was exciting and great to read!
59 out of 72 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2012
Posted December 26, 2011
Posted December 26, 2011
I like this a lot it is so exciting to read it just grabs your atention and u never want to stop readin also if u liked this book u should try out the sexond book small steps and let me warn u the ending was so good i thought dhe could keep going but no so i hope a 3book comes out.
33 out of 47 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 14, 2011
I loved the book. I have read it many rimes and i have another book from Louis Sachar. It is called Small Steps annd i hope it is as good as Holes. I also love the movie of Holes. I will definitly watch the movie and read the book again.
32 out of 45 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2012
Posted November 19, 2011
Posted October 30, 2008
Holes, by Louis Sachar , is a excellent book. It makes me want to read it over and over again. My opinion about the book Holes is that Louis Sachar wrote the book very well so the sentences flow very smoothly and it always leaves you in suspense and wanting more also leaves you on the edge of your seat. <BR/>This book takes place at camp green lake in the middle of a dusty desert. The major conflict in the story is that the camp councilors treat them horribly and the warden makes them dig holes in order to find the treasure of green. One major plot detail is after Stanley is sent to camp he is treated like dirt by all the kids there. Also the conditions the kids work in is blazing heat and barley any water. This book is written in the narrative point of view. He uses very vivid adjectives and all of the sentences flow smoothly.<BR/>I recommend this book to anyone who likes a great fiction book. You will have a great sense of satisfaction when you are done reading. Go out and read to find out the end!
26 out of 34 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2011
Posted November 6, 2013
For the people that are posting inapropriate comments, please. Kids are reading the interviews and this is a kid's book.-Barnes&Noble
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13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2011
The title of this book is Holes. It is the story of a boy who had to go to a camp because the police thought he stole an important pair of shoes. The book tells about days in his life and the author probably wrote this story for everyone to read. When you make new friends you usually stay good friends. You stick with each other and never leave each other behind and you help each other out. The author wrote this to entertain us but also to teach us never to steal.
The time period of the book is the present day. While you are reading this book they will take you back to his great grandpa. The story was at Camp Green Lake in Texas. The book is mostly to make us laugh and enjoy the book. The words in the book like Texas words made me laugh and some of the characters were funny. I would rate this book five stars. It was really good and I would read it over and over again. This book has a little bit of a twist to it. It is like a mystery. You have to piece puzzle pieces together to get the book. That was the fun of it.
The most important thing about this book is the policemen thinking the boy stole the shoes, having to go to Camp Green Lake, and the friends he made. One of my favorite quotes is ¿There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.¿ It¿s funny because he expected a whole different thing, but when he gets there its just dust. Another quote was, ¿ It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great ¿grandfather!¿ This was important to the story because the family was under a curse because of their no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great- great ¿grandfather!
When you make friends you stick with each other, help each other no matter what. This book is about helping each other and sometimes having a good adventure. I would advise you to get this book and read it because there might be a surprise at the end
If you want to laugh and smile you should get the book Holes. This book is right for you. It also has mysteries and might be surprised to see what happens at the end.
12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2011
Posted December 3, 2010
If you've ever met or read about someone who always has bad luck, if you haven't then you don't know about Stanley Yelnats whose whole family is under a curse. A curse that his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great great-grandfather began. In Holes by Louis Sachar and published by Yearling in 1998, Stanley gets convicted of a crime of stealing a pair of owned by the famous ballplayer, Clyde Livingston, and then gets sent to Camp Green Lake, a place for delinquent teen boys. Once there he must dig holes, something that is supposed to promote good behavior, but is really a search of the legendary treasure of the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow. While at camp Stanley befriends many of the camp's other inhabitants, one such delinquent being a young boy nicknamed Zero. He makes a deal with Zero. He'll teach Zero how to read if Zero digs his holes for him. This deal seals their friendship and leads them on a journey that will enable them both to hopefully gain better luck. The entire story is filled with distinctive characters and has an imaginative plot. Sachar has woven together two intertwining stories and highlights the difficulties of two unfortunate boys in a tale that brings the characters to life.
9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 29, 2012
Posted January 14, 2012
This book got an award? For what? Is it some sort of classic that people are afraid to say how bad it really is? I've read worse books but I've also read much, much better. It was sort of boring if you ask me. What did I learn? Don't get into trouble so you're not sent to a boys prison camp in the desert. Do they really have those? Come on! Really?
8 out of 35 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2009
Book title and author: Holes by Louis Sachar
Title of review: holes
Number of stars (1 to 5): 4.5
Holes is a book about a boy getting sent away for stealing something he didn't do. Stanley Yelnats was the boy who got sent to Camp Green Lake. After he was accused of stealing a pair of shoes he had a choice of jail or Camp Green Lake. The family thinks why this happens is because they think there is a curse on them.
This camp is for the juvenile kids to dig a hole each day and if u find something special you get off for that day. The ominous part behind the juvenile digs holes at the camp is because the Warden is searching for something. The warden wants to something because is has something to do with the curse on Stanley's family. The curse is all over Stanley's great-grand father forgetting to bring Madame Zeroni up the mountain. When his great grand father gets to America and has a child they think she set a curse on there family until they find something. So when Stanley finds the treasure the curse was broken and it rained at Camp Green Lake and Stanley became rich.
As I read the book Holes I found it to be very amusing. Some parts we a little slow but it was still very interesting. I really advocate this book. The parts were very interesting. It is not a very educational book but more for the entertainment. The goals were practically to work and dig holes and then they ran away and survived in the dessert. It shows not to back down to anyone and you can get in trouble really quick. All it takes it to be in the right spot at the right time.
I highly recommend this book. The book was very interesting with the juvenile kids digging holes. I thought that about the curse. It makes me think more and more about how weird it was. I mean for you to have a curse and to get sent away to break the curse practically. When Stanley ran away he ate onions on the mountain which had water to survive. Also when Stanley found the treasure that got dug up there were poisonous lizards covering it but never ate them when they picked it up.
I really liked this book was because of how Stanley stood up to the warden and never backed down. Also how they survived in the dessert. They never gave up and when they found the treasure he found
8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2012
This book was very suspenseful. We read a few chapters a night and it was hard to put the book down. We especially liked how everything connected in the end and how Stanley and Zero helped each other out again and again.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2012
I wm a ten year old girl and I never stoped reading it. My mom would yell at me because it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo good if u r my age and what to read a really cool book then pick this book I dare u
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 7, 2011