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Holes (Newbery Medal Book) Hardcover – August 20, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 4,468 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Holes Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be "the largest lake in Texas" is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!" Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with the Lord of the Flies-styled pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character--that in fact the warden is seeking something specific--the plot gets as thick as the irony.

It's a strange story, but strangely compelling and lovely too. Louis Sachar uses poker-faced understatement to create a bizarre but believable landscape--a place where Major Major Major Major of Catch-22 would feel right at home. But while there is humor and absurdity here, there is also a deep understanding of friendship and a searing compassion for society's underdogs. As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny--the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store--we can't help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere. (Ages 10 and older) --Brangien Davis

From Publishers Weekly

PW's starred review of the 1999 Newbery Medal winner described it as a "dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism." Ages 10-up. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 16 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Series: Newbery Medal Book
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (August 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374332657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374332655
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,468 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,561,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an elementary school librarian, I have been disappointed with many of the recent Newbery Medal winning books, mainly because it seemed like adults were selecting books that they thought young people SHOULD read. Many recent Newbery winning books just sit on our shelves.Therefore, when I added "Holes" to our collection, simply because it had received the medal, I expected to see yet another title collecting dust. To my surprise, this book has been constantly checked out since we received it, and young people, especially boys, are always talking about this book.As some of the other reviews have suggested, this book is a bit quirky, but some of the mysterious features of the story propel the reader forward and Sachar does a nice job of filling in the holes by the time you reach the end.Stanley and "Zero" are two boys down on their luck, who become friends in a terrible place. As fate would have it, the misfortunes that brought them together turn out to be interrelated."Holes" is another new book that gets young people to read, much like the Harry Potter phenomenon. Not only that, it gets them to think and talk about what they've been reading. Based on that, this book is recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Stanley Yelnats and his family have never had anything but bad luck, so it's not really a surprise to him when he is falsely accused and convicted of theft. Given the choice of jail or Camp Green Lake, Stanley chooses Green Lake because he's never been to camp before. Unfortunately, Camp Green Lake doesn't have a lake and it isn't really a camp. It's a juvenile detention facility. And to build character, the warden, who paints her fingernails with snake venom, has each "camper" dig a hole five feet deep by five feet wide by five feet long every day, even Saturdays and Sundays. What Stanley and the rest of the boys don't know is that the warden isn't just building character, she's looking for the lost buried treasure of outlaw, Kissing Kate Barlow. So begins Holes, a terrific, action filled story, full of great characters with strong voices, exciting, funny scenes and enough twists and turns to keep your kids reading non-stop to the end of the book. Louis Sachar has written a masterpiece full of humor, insight, wisdom and the triumph of the human spirit and he deserves all the awards this book won. A must read for children aged 9 - 12 and a great addition to all home libraries.
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A Kid's Review on September 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Holes is an excellent book.
It is suspenseful, interesting,and not one chapter
is even the slightest bit boring.
You will find that you will want to read this book
multiple times.
Louis Sachar has done an amazing job with Holes.
I hope that my review convinces you to read this
wonderful award winning book.
Thank You
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Format: Hardcover
I initially wanted read Holes to see what all the fuss was about and to determine if I should buy it for some nieces and nephews for the holidays. Well, I read it in one sitting - just couldn't put it down.
The piece is very disturbing at first, demanding and bleak but realistic with a touch of the magic to come. The beginning can be a little hard to get through, almost depressing. But the rewards are ample and well worth the emotional journey.
Stanley Yelnats is an unlikely yet likeable protagonist who's evolution and growth is gradual and encouraging and totally believeable. I can imagine that many young adolescents will really relate to this "outsider". He gives us all hope. Yet for all Stanley's troubles and adventures, Sacher has given him a pair of loving and totally supportive parents. Yes, Stanley is the hero who comes to the rescue, but his parents are not fools and, in the end, do some growing of their own. How refreshing!
I'll not only give this book to various youngsters on my holiday list, but several adults will find it in their stockings as well.
Grab an onion, a canteen of fresh water, put your shovel down and enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
Never judge a book by its cover. It was hard for me to look at Holes by Louis Sachar without wondering how the illustrious author of Sideways Stories from Wayside School and There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom managed to procure both a Newbery Medal and a National Book Award. I expected Holes to be yet another tale of juvenile delinquency and final redemption. I was however, pleasantly surprised at the depth of this book. I soon found myself caught up in the well-constructed
plot, and finished it within twenty-four hours. Although I realized that what I was reading was definitely `pleasure reading', I enjoyed piecing together the events in my mind and near the end of the book I was able to triumphantly say, "Ah-hah!" Even though most events fell together, I did not in the least appreciate the last chapter in which the author instructs the readers to `fill in the holes' on their own. It led me to believe that the author himself couldn't think of anything to tie events together and therefore, he simply thought of an eloquent way to tell us to use our imaginations. All things considered, Holes was an excellent book and I enjoyed it very much. Louis Sachar definitely made a contribution to children's literature in the writing of Holes and deserves the honors he received for it.
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