Newbery 1999, Holes

By Louis Sachar © 1998
Published by Scholastic, Inc.
1999 Newbery Medal winner

Holes is the story of young Stanley Yelnats and a generations-old family curse. As the story opens, things look grim for Stanley. Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Stanley is sentenced to serve time at Camp Green Lake, a camp for bad boys.

“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…”

Camp Green Lake didn’t sound so bad. After all, Stanley had never been to camp before. But Stanley soon finds that, “there is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” Instead, there are endless stretches of desert, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and deadly yellow-spotted lizards. The Warden and camp staff are dangerous characters, as well, who oversee the boys, day in and day out, as they dig holes, each exactly five feet deep and five feet wide. The boys have no idea why they’re digging these holes. They’re told that digging holes builds character and turns bad boys into good boys. But before his time at Camp Green Lake is through, Stanley will uncover the real truth about the Warden, Camp Green Lake – and the Yelnats family curse.

Holes, by Louis Sachar, is definitely my favorite Newbery pick so far. It’s a smart, funny page-turner, has wonderful characters, a story line with lots of ups and downs, and a karmic happy ending. A great read!