Holes was written by Louis Sachar in 1998. The book is about Stanley Yelnats, a young man who gets sentenced to a correctional facility for 18 months for stealing sports memorabilia. While at the facility, Stanley meets other young men in the same place, and strikes up unlikely friendships. Heartwarming, and often funny, Holes is a coming-of-age story that shows not everyone’s life is the stuff of fairy tales.
“If I had just kept those old smelly sneakers, then neither of us would be here right now.”
This was the last book I had my 3rd grade students read for the school year, and they really enjoyed it, but arguably enjoyed the movie more. I don’t blame them. This book had some pretty advanced vocabulary, and mature subject matter. Not surprising since this book is normally read in grades 6-8. Since my students already were high readers, with a great vocabulary I thought they could handle it, and they did. What made this book a little difficult for them in the beginning was the use of flashbacks in the story.
The story of Stanley and the kids at Camp Green Lake is paralleled with a story from the 1800’s. These flashbacks have a tendency to pop up unexpectedly, but they begin to make more sence towards the end of the novel. Since my students had never read a book that used flashbacks before, they were somewhat confused in the beginning. Once they realized what was happening, they ceased to have problems. If you have a young reader at home, I would definitely recommend this book.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it.After all, you only have one life, so you should try to make the most of it.”
The movie of the same name starring Shia LaBeouf follows pretty closely to the novel. Well acted, the film gives life to characters born on the page. The flashbacks are still in the film, and might make it easier for children to understand the concept of using flashbacks to give background information to a story.
“He’s not going to die,” the Warden said, “Unfortunately for you.”
The Warden, played by Sigourney Weaver, is just as malicious as the novel. Her complicated reasons for having the youth in her charge digging holes in the desert also is made easier to understand in the film. If you have a young reader who has difficulty understanding the themes and concepts of the novel, allowing them to watch the film afterwards may prove to be a great help.