Sachar, Louis. Holes. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998. ISBN 0-374-33265-7. $16.00. 233 pp.” 6+ FI Reviewed by Nancy C. Evensen An undeserved stay in Camp Green Lake, a juvenile facility, helps Stanley Yelnats IV gain confidence, friends, and good fortune. Stanley's family has a history of bad luck, which they blame on their “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.” Stories of the past are woven into the text to help explain Stanley's experiences. When a pair of stolen shoes fall from the sky, Stanley claims them, totally unaware that they were donated by baseball hero Clyde Livingston for a celebrity auction. Of course, the judge refuses to believe Stanley's story. Stanley is given a choice between Camp Green Lake and jail. Because his poor family have been unable to send him to a summer camp, Camp Green Lake is their choice.”There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” This is a clue to the reader that things will not be as they seem. Rather, Camp Green Lake is a dry, flat wasteland where the boys are required to rise each day before dawn and dig a hole five feet by five feet. Besides the digging, the camp has scorching sun, poisonous snakes, spiders, lizards, and a warden who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. Despite its difficulties, the situation enables Stanley to learn about friendship. When he figures out that there is a bigger purpose for digging holes than “building character,” the plot begins to thicken. Holes is an example of the expression “what goes around comes around.” In this case, it just takes a few generations of Stanley Yelnats to do so. The book has a suspenseful storyline filled with irony that cheers for society's underdogs. Holes is truly exceptional. o Editor's Note: Holes was chosen as the 1999 Newbery Award winner.
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