1999: Holes (digging up the past)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 4/5

Louis Sachar’s Holes is a much more humorous read that many of the other Newbery Medal winners. With both charming characters and tragic happenings, this quick page turner easily captures the imagination and delicately weaves events from the past and present together to create a charming tale about one unlucky boy.

Much of this book focuses on how one event from the past can affect future generations. Stanley Yelnats life is unlucky do to a curse that was placed on his family due to the negligence of his long lost ancestor. As a result, Stanley ends up getting caught with a pair of shoes that he is accused of stealing and is sent to Camp Green Lake. He learns that the camp is an awful place, where he must find a way to fit in with the other boys and dig a big hole everyday in the sunny desert. His family’s past catches up with his present, though, as he learns that his history is tied with the camp’s true purpose.

Holes is an enjoyable read for both children and adults alike. While the storyline is fairly dark with its prison setting and cruel prison warden, viewing the story through Stanley’s naive and innocent eyes leads to some witty dialogue as he befriends some of the other boys in the camp. His burgeoning friendship with Zero slowly reveals their past connection, as their loyalty to each other saves their lives. The juxtaposition between the horror and the comedy helps create an atmosphere where the random out-of-this-world revelations actually make sense.

Louis Sachar created an interesting world in Camp Green Lake, where boys must dig holes five by five feet everyday, yellow spotted lizards hide in their holes ready to pounce, and it’s sunny 365 days a year. There’s a little bit of everything for all readers in Holes – levity, action, adventure, romance and mystery. Additionally, reluctant readers might enjoy this book as the main characters are likeable and the plot is simple, yet action-packed.

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