Monday, September 29, 2014



MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY
"Holes" by Louis Sachar

I've been happily sharing Judy Blume and Kate DiCamillo's books with you, but today I'm reviewing a super middle grade book, Holes, by Louis Sachar. Many young people and teachers know this wonderful book because it was made into a great movie. I'm happy to say that the movie is pretty faithful to the book, which is always appreciated.
Holes, is one book that seamlessly weaves two stories from the past into the action of the present. Through a series of hapless accidents --such as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being cursed--Stanley Yelnats finds himself sentenced to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center. There the warden has the boys digging holes--building character by searching for what? We find out through stories from the past.

One of the past stories is a love story which features prominently in the survival of Stanley and Zero, another juvenile sentenced to the same camp, when they run away from camp. That's the story of Kissing Kate Barlow, a notorious outlaw. But the first story that sets everything in motion is a family curse that also defines Stanley's and his father's life, the curse from "his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." 

Whatever happened in the past, Stanley is a main character that kids can relate to. He suffers for the past, but triumphs quite spectacularly in the end. It's an ending that is neatly wrapped up. Those deserving retribution receive it and those deserving reward also receive it. There are some poignant moments, some comical events, some tragic, and dramatic situations.  Stanley grows and learns a lot about life and what he's capable of when put to the test.

What I loved the most about Holes is how well Louis Sachar plotted this book; combining these three stories so well that the reader is dying to find out what happens in each of the stories. The action keeps moving right along. There's suspense, excitement, vengeance, retribution, and ultimately an appropriate kind of justice when the curse is broken. It all comes together in the end and is very satisfying.

Louis Sachar's book Holes, winner of the 1999 Newberry Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, is also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick, an ALA Notable Book, and was made into a major Disney motion picture starring Shia LaBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Tom Blake Wilson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Fox, Henry Winkler, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Dule Hill, and Eartha Kitt.