Standalone. Yearling Books (May 2000) Own
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes. It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment - and redemption.
Stanley Yelnats' bad luck can be traced all the way back to his great-great grandfather who foolishly fell in love at the tender age of fifteen. Now I'm not saying it's wrong to fall in love at fifteen or even that it's a foolish idea at all. But, it was foolish for Elya Yelnats to fall in love with this one particular dimwitted girl who wouldn't know what love was if it smacked her on the head. Elya's love for her was truly sincere that's for sure but unfortunately it didn't work out so well... He struck a deal with Madame Zeroni to help him marry his love but he didn't keep his end of the deal. As a result he and his family have been destined to be cursed always and forever.
What we may not realize in this world is that perseverance and hard work may help you get places but it's luck that gives you that extra burst that can make you succeed in life. The Yelnats are fresh out of luck which is why the great-great grandson of Elya Yelnats was accused of a crime he did not commit and sent to Camp Green Lake - a hot tempered land that hasn't had rain in over a hundred years. There Stanley meets a mishmash cast of characters he will be digging holes along side of to build character: X-Ray, the leader; Armit, who's name speaks for himself; Magnet, who's hands can't keep away from things that aren't his; Zigzag, the oddest kid out of the bunch; Squid, who taunts Stanley about writing back home; and Zero, the boy that everyone looks down at and who never speaks a word. At Camp Green Lake Stanley will make decisions that will forever change the course of his life and his family's as well. Will he choose to stand for what he believes in or remain hidden in the background?
I love this book. I believe every child (and adult!) should read it. It's a book about hope, strength of character to do the right thing, and knowing that if you are an honest and good person even if things don't always go your way everything can turn around for the better. This book is teeming with originality and personality. It will always provide me with a kid's sense of wonder and happiness. It's a must read!
For those of you who have read the book and seen the movie:
I've watched the movie version of this book for years and have loved it for years. I've been kind of wary of reading the book for a while now because I knew that Stanley was larger in the book and that was hard for me to picture instead of the actor in the movie. I still couldn't picture him that well in the book but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book. It actually makes sense for Stanley to build muscle and lose weight in the story because it is reminiscent of the story of his great-great grandfather. He builds his strength to do what he needs to do.
I couldn't help comparing the book to the movie while I was reading the story. I really enjoyed that the book talked about what happened to Elya after he came to America. There's a little scene that's really sweet and reminds you that although all these generations of Yelnats have had bad luck they all have fallen deeply in love with a good person. They all also have tremendous amounts of hope and perseverance. They've kind of benefited from this curse in a way. They all ended up being good people and that's the most important thing.
There are a little changes here and there. Just different realizations at different moments. I don't think there is a Squid in the movie. There are moments I prefer from the movie and others from the book. I love when in the movie Stanley starts getting this happy feeling and he says that he's feeling lucky. It doesn't sound like a big deal but for those of you that have seen the movie might think the same way. It's a turning point for Stanley. I also noticed throughout the book that some scenes from the movie were exactly like the book. The same things were said. I loved catching those words from the movie I love so much reading the book. The song difference was really interesting as well. I didn't expect that but I did like the change up.
Question: Which do you love more the book or the movie?
Overall: I loved this book. It had some things in it that made the story that I thought I knew so well from the movie different and exciting. I couldn't say I enjoyed it more than the movie but it had its moments. Holes is a great children's book that should be on kids shelves everywhere!
I just found out that there is a sequel to Holes. If you want to know more about Small Steps you can head on to Goodreads.