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Holes ()

Newbery Award Winners

Stanley Yelnats is a boy who is being punished as a result of the gypsy curse laid on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather."  He's sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing a pair of sneakers, though he claims they actually fell at his feet from out of the sky.  Stanley is innocent enough to think that Camp will be interesting, but soon finds himself digging five by five foot holes in a blazing sun.  He's surrounded by a gang of unpleasant fellow inmates with colorful nicknames and the whole place is overseen by a Warden who paints her nails with rattlesnake venom.  Intertwined with Stanley's story is that of his pig-thieving forbear and Kate Barlow, the Kissing Bandit.

Sachar has said his story was influenced by The Princess Bride, which is evident in the wordplay and in a certain fairy tale quality.  But where Princess Bride drew on everything from Pirate movies to Sword and Sorcery pulps, and followed conventional heroic adventure format, Sachar's plot is drawn more from American tall tales, like Pecos Bill, and, strangely enough for a children's book, such movies as Cool Hand Luke and such existentialist dilemmas as The Myth of Sisyphus.  Fate and doom seem to loom over the Yelnats family generally and Stanley in particular, though by story's end justice has been meted out, rather suddenly, to all concerned.

The reviews I've read have been uniformly favorable, even ecstatic, with many reviewers suggesting that even adults will enjoy the book.  But I didn't like it all that much.  If there's anything sillier than the idea that existence consists of mere drudgery (Existentialism) it would be that the drudgery is followed, arbitrarily, by a balancing of the cosmic scales.  Personally, I find the view that life is absurd to be morally corrosive and I'd just as soon not have my kids fall prey to such beliefs.  Of course, I'm a crotchety old man; this'll probably be their favorite book.


Grade: (C-)


Louis Sachar Links:

    -REVIEW: of Holes by Louis Sachar (Amanda Paulson, Christian Science Monitor)

Book-related and General Links:
    -EXCERPT : First Chapter of Holes by Louis Sachar
    -Louis Sachar : Teacher Resource Page
    -Scholastic : Meet Louis Sachar
    -At Random : Resource Center : Louis Sachar
    -SACHAR, LOUIS - Educational Paperback Association
    -Childrens's Book Council - Louis Sachar
    -PROFILE : Louis Sachar's Success Story (Barbara Strickland, Austin Chronicle)
    -ESSAY : A gold star for tedium : Do the Newbery Medal-winning children's books really have to be so dreary? (E.J. Graff, Salon)
    -Teacher CyberGuide for Holes by Louis Sachar (CyberGuide by Jeanie Fritzsche and Mary Lou Sortais)
    -Random House | Holes Teacher's Guide
    -READING GUIDE : for Holes (Annette Lamb)
    -REVIEW : of Holes By Louis Sachar (Betsy Hearne, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Holes (Victoria Lloyd, What Am I Going to Read?)
    -REVIEW : of Holes (Nancy Matson)
    -REVIEW : of Holes (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW : of Holes (School Library Journal)
    -REVIEW : of Holes (Judie Richey, TeacherViews)
    -AWARD : Author Louis Sachar wins 1999 Newbery Medal (ALA)

    -REVIEW: of Holes (A. O. Scott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Holes: Digging for Treasure: In these Holes lives a wry, thrilling kids film (for adults, too) (Bill Gallo, Dallas Observer)


I am reading your book right know. I am really excited that i am reading this book. I am reading the book Holes. It is a really good book. I have not once been able to put the book down. I am tired all of the time but I just cant seem to put it down. It has alot of exciting adventures and little storie's to the side to help you understand the book. and that is really cool. Not many author's are able to and little storie's to the side and be able to have it connect to the main adventure that is awaiting you. I know that you have many other book's out there to. But this is one of my favorite's. Now what would be really cool is if you would make more book's like this one. Now that would be really cool.

- Kristen Wilkie

- Dec-17-2005, 20:37


I am 14 years old and have just finished reading this book for the second time! My English tutor first introduced me to this fantastic book. She read me the 1st chapter (which is 2 pages) and I was instantly intrigued and just wanted to keep reading. It gave you hardly any information at all but that’s what made me want to read on so badly. I finished this book very quickly and then wrote a story of my own. After reading this book my writing styles etc became much more interesting and I feel it was because of this book "Holes". In English, we have just been asked to read a book and give an in-depth speech on it and I choses to read Holes again and do my speech on it. I greatly recommend this book for anyone above the age of 10. This book is what got me into reading and I hope it does the same for you! Heres a little tip from me ... READ IT, thankyou.

- Gabrielle

- Nov-19-2005, 19:49


i had to read the book with my girls english class (8E) and i thought it would be more of a boys book, but us girls LOVED IT!

- rachel parkington

- May-04-2005, 04:44


Although a bit violent "Holes" is an excellent read. I recommend this book to readers 13 and up.

- Joe

- Sep-12-2004, 23:14


I absouloutly loved the book We read it in english class and we took it home and i read the whole book instead of the few chapters we were supposed to read

- fiona

- Nov-02-2003, 12:05


Sorry about that, I filled out the Name field incorrectly. I, Beverly, wrote the comment.

- Beverly

- Nov-08-2002, 04:11


I read Holes tonight after my fourth grader brought it home from school today. She had described a little bit of the plot this week and I was appalled by what she was describing. After reading the book myself, I am even more horrified that our school has used this book as a 'reading' book that the whole class did together. I came online to find out what others thought about the book and I kept finding words such as 'humerous' and 'comedic'. Somehow I missed the humor in the descriptions of anti-social behavior in most of the characters. The violence really bothered me. When the Warden purposefully paints her nails with snake venom and slaps and scratches Mr. Sir, and then calmly watches as he writhes in agony...when Mr. Sir, in turn, smashes a teens head up against an oatmeal pot and chokes him when the teen dares to notice his mutiliated face...when Mr. Sir pours out Stanleys water in reprisal for seeing Mr. Sir's humiliation with the Warden...the Warden stabs Armpit with a pitchfork and 3 holes and blood appear on his shirt as he falls into a hole up to 5 feet deep...Sam's murder...Kiss me Kate shooting the sheriff, and in a macabre fashion, kissing him with red lipstick freshly applied to her lips...Kate Barlow's black and blistered feet as she was forced to continue walking or she would get whacked with the shovel...the shooting of Mary Lou...Zigzag provoking and beating up Stanley...Zigzag smashing Stanley in the head with a shovel.

Now on to the ugly relationship dynamics...The abusive, traumatic dynamics between the adults in the book and the teens...and between the teens and each other. The message that adults are ignorant & unprotective (Stanley's parents), abandoning (Zero's Mom), or overtly abusive (Warden, Mr. Sir), or, if you dare trust them as one might want to do with Pendanski, they will just turn around and betray you as he did at the end (he was one of the most ruthless adults in the end).

There are too many other well-written books out there to have to settle for this kind of traumatic read. Just because a book is "well-written" does not make it worthwhile to read.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my view.

- Dear Orrin

- Nov-08-2002, 04:09