||To meet Wikipedia's quality standards, this book-related article may require cleanup. (January 2012)|
First edition cover
|Cover artist||Vladimir Radunsky|
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US)
Ediciones SM (Spain)
|Publication date||August 20, 1998|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Pages||241 pp (first edition)
233 pp (second ed.)
497 pp (on iPad)
|Dewey Decimal||[Fic] 21|
|LC Classification||PZ7.S1185 Ho 1998|
|Followed by||Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake|
Holes is a 1998 young adults novel written by Louis Sachar and first published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It won the 1999 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal for the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". Originally, the book was to be called Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Kid. It was adapted into a film by Walt Disney Pictures and released in 2003.
Stanley Yelnats is an overweight teenage boy from a poor family who is affected by bad luck, which they blame on a "curse" brought on them by his great-great-grandfather. His latest episode of misfortune is to be wrongly accused of stealing the shoes of the baseball player Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston. As a punishment for this crime, he is given the choice of either going to jail or to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention and correctional facility. Despite its name, Camp Green Lake turns out to be a camp in the middle of the barren desert in which the young inmates are forced to dig five-feet holes, ostensibly to "build their character". When he arrives at the desolate place, he is warned by the supervisor, a man named Mr. Sir, not to cross the warden of the camp, warden Walker. He also meets Mr. Pendanski, another supervisor. After an uneasy start, he is gradually accepted into the company of the other inmates in Tent D. He also befriends a feral child called Zero, who is dismissed as being stupid by Mr. Pendanski and the other inmates. The story has two subplots which are unknown to Stanley and tell of how his family and the lake became cursed.
The first subplot is set in 19th century Latvia. Stanley's great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats, is friends with an Egyptian one-legged gypsy, Madame Zeroni. He desires to impress his crush, Myra Menke, and her father. Another, much older, man (Igor Barkov) is also trying to woo her, and he offers his heaviest pig in exchange for the lady's hand in marriage. Desperate, Elya goes to Madame Zeroni for help. Despite repeatedly warning him that Myra is stupid and will not be a good wife, she gives him a tiny piglet, telling him to carry the piglet up a mountain every day, and let it drink from a stream and sing to it. In exchange, Elya is instructed that on the last day he should carry her up the mountain to do the same. Elya follows her direction, and the piglet grows to a large size, but he fails to carry out his vow to Madame Zeroni that he would carry her up the mountain. Elya comes close to winning Myra as a bride, he realizes Madame Zeroni was right about her stupidity and walks away in disgust. He later moves to America to start out a new life, but is continually hit by misfortune, presumably from Madame Zeroni's curse. Stanley's friend Zero is revealed to be Hector Zeroni, one of her descendants.
The second subplot is set in the time before the lake ran dry and the town of Green Lake was a flourishing community. Katherine "Kate" Barlow, the local teacher, is occasionally asked on a date by Charles "Trout" Walker, her wealthy, dim-witted adult student. She initially declines, but is warned that "no one says no to Charles Walker!" Sam, the local African-American onion salesman, is Kate's real romantic interest and lover. Kate has Sam repair her schoolhouse and falls in love with him. After Kate is seen kissing Sam on the lips, the jealous Charles Walker convinces the prejudiced town that Kate has corrupted her students with books. Sam and Kate escape into the lake on Sam's boat, Mary Lou, but they are chased down by the Walkers. Sam is shot and killed, while Kate is allowed to return to the town. For the next 20 years, "Kissin' Kate" Barlow becomes a feared Texan outlaw. One of her victims was Stanley's great-grandfather, Stanley Yelnats I, who miraculously survived being abandoned in the desert. The murder of Sam results in Green Lake being cursed; no rain falls on the area again and the town is abandoned. Kate returns years later to an old cabin on the former lakeside and is tracked down by Charles Walker and his wife. They try to force her to reveal where she buried the Yelnats treasure, but she is bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard and dies, taunting them to "start digging". The Walkers are left to dig the entire area in order to find the buried suitcase. It becomes apparent that the Warden is a descendant of the Walkers and is using the campers to find the suitcase for her.
At Camp Green Lake, the inmates are told they will receive a day off if they find something interesting. During one dig, Stanley finds one of Barlow's lipstick tubes, but he donates it to X-Ray, the ringleader of Tent D. The Warden is excited by their discovery and orders them to greatly enlarge X-Ray's hole for the next few weeks. Stanley becomes suspicious that the Warden is looking for something. Zero gets in trouble after losing his temper with Mr. Pendanski in an argument and hitting him with a shovel. He runs away, but the camp staff decide to leave him to die in the desert and erase their records of him. Stanley soon follows, in concern for Zero's safety. Zero had been living on very old jars of Kate's spiced peaches that he had found in Sam's boat, which was sitting at the bed of the dried-up lake, calling the peaches "Sploosh". Upon seeing a mountain resembling a human fist giving the thumbs up sign, Stanley recalls the story of how Stanley Yelnats I claimed to find "refuge on God’s thumb". On the way up the mountain, Zero admits he is guilty of the crime Stanley was convicted of.
Atop the mountain, Stanley discovers a field of onions that once belonged to Sam. The boys eat and find water by digging a hole in the ground. During their contentment Stanley sings to Zero and says that they should return to Camp Green Lake to find the buried treasure. Upon returning, Zero steals some water and food from the kitchens while Stanley looks for the buried treasure in the hole where he found the lipstick. They succeed in extracting a suitcase, but are discovered by the Warden and the camp staff and surrounded by a group of lethal yellow-spotted lizards. The staff are unable to approach them, but the lizards do not bite Stanley and Zero because (according to what Sam once said) they are repelled by onions. Unable to leave the hole they occupy, they remain in place until the next morning, when an attorney arrives requesting Stanley’s release. The Warden tries to take the suitcase off them, but Zero reveals that the name ‘Stanley Yelnats’ is written on it. After the camp staff are unable to produce Zero's file, he too is released.
Stanley's family open the case, discovering the jewels, deeds, stocks and promissory notes stolen from Stanley Yelnats I. Using the money raised from the bonds, Stanley's family buy a new house for his family and Zero hires a team of investigators to find his missing mother; meanwhile, the drought at Green Lake is brought to an end by rainfall, as if in response to Stanley's fulfillment of his ancestor's promise (a suggestion left purposely ambiguous by the narration). In a final scene, Clyde Livingston, along with the Yelnats and Zeroni families, celebrates the success of Stanley’s father's antidote to foot odor, composed of preserved and fermented spiced peaches and named "Sploosh" by Zero. The warden is forced to sell off the land the state government, who turns it into a Girl Scout camp.
Zero's real name is Hector Zeroni, but he has been called Zero for most of his life. He has been homeless for most of his life, and his mother abandoned (or lost) him when he was still small. Zero has not had much of an education so he does not know how to read or write. Despite all the adversity that he has faced, Zero knows that he is smart and he has a sense of standing up for himself. At first he is presented as a strange character because he rarely speaks and always walks around with a scowl on his face. Eventually, when Zero becomes friends with Stanley, the reader learns that Zero is silent because he does not like answering questions and most likely because he is wary of people like Mr. Pendanski, who always mock him. Zero has suffered so much hardship in his life that he eventually cannot stand Camp Green Lake anymore and he runs away. He has a generous spirit, exemplified by the fact that he shares his last jar of "sploosh" (a sweet peach mixture made by the beautiful Katherine Barlow 110 years ago) with Stanley after he has run away. As Stanley gains self-confidence, Zero begins to talk more and scowl less. Zero is also very honest and although he steals because he lives on the street, he tries to steal less valuable things so that people will not mind as much. It is really Zero who has stolen the shoes that Stanley was accused of stealing and Zero feels bad for Stanley and apologizes for stealing them. Later on, Stanley is proved not guilty of stealing the sneakers.
X-Ray is the unofficial head of the group of boys in tent D at Camp Green Lake. X-Ray decides that Stanley will be called Caveman and fixes the order of the line for water. X-Ray maintains his position as the leader of the boys even though he is one of the smallest boys and can barely see without his glasses. He convinces Stanley to give him the lipstick tube that Stanley finds in his hole so that he can have the day off instead of Stanley. X-Ray is able to maintain his position at the head of the group through a system of rewards and allies. Every time that Stanley does something nice for X-Ray, X-Ray is nice to Stanley and stands up for him when the other boys pick on him. When Stanley becomes friends with Zero, however, X-Ray's system is threatened and he becomes hostile towards Stanley. When Stanley and Zero are released from the camp all of the boys come over to congratulate them except for X-Ray. It is clear that X-Ray is not only jealous but also threatened that more attention is being paid to Stanley and Zero.
Katherine "Kissin Kate" Barlow
Katherine Barlow is a sweet and intelligent woman who teaches in a one-room school house on Green Lake one hundred ten years before it becomes Camp Green Lake. She falls in love with Sam, the man who sells onions in the town, because he is kind, strong, and smart. Although the rest of the white people in the town are racists and enforce rules that prohibit black people from going to school, Kate, who is white, does not care about the color of a person's skin and she loves Sam for the person that he is. When Kate and Sam kiss the town grows angry and kills Sam. Kate is devastated by Sam's death and decides to have revenge. She becomes Kissin' Kate Barlow, one of the most feared outlaws in the west. Kissin' Kate would always leave her mark by kissing someone when she had killed them, if she had only robbed them, she would leave them in the hot desert letting the yellow-spotted lizards bite them with their poisonous teeth and kill them. She was the outlaw responsible for robbing Stanley Yelnats I, who's treasure is later found by Stanley/Caveman and Zero.
Camp Green Lake is located in Green Lake, Texas on a dried up lake. The area is not green and there is no lake.
In 2003, Walt Disney Pictures released a film version of Holes, which was directed by Andrew Davis and written by Louis Sachar. The film was a modest success at the box office and a critical success.
Two companion novels have followed Holes: Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake (2003) and Small Steps (2006).
- "National Book Awards – 1999". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
(With acceptance speech by Sachar.)
- "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present". Association for Library Service to Children. ALA. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Holes at the Internet Movie Database
Out of the Dust
|Newbery Medal recipient
Bud, Not Buddy
|Winner of the
William Allen White Children's Book Award
Bud, Not Buddy