He read the book a few days before I did, and it certainly held his interest - and mine, too. It was an engaging story that kept me reading when I should have been doing all kinds of other things. I have to say this book was just more fun than any of the other Newbery winners I've read so far. Fun is not something you would expect from a story about a detention camp, but having looked at some of Louis Sachar's other children's books (my son read all of the "Sideways School" books earlier this year), it wasn't as much a surprise as I would otherwise have thought.
Holes did have some serious ideas in it - justice, bullying, and fate all play important roles in the story. And my son actually asked me about one of the historic parts "Was it really against the law to 'kiss a Negro?' " - which prompted a short discussion on the term Negro, as used in "the old days", along with racism and how it has changed. The use of history in the book was incredible - clever and surprising. And I loved this play on the title near the end of the book:
You will have to fill in the holes yourself.I also loved Sachar's descriptions - the dry lake, the blazing sun, the rattlesnakes and scorpions and the yellow-spotted lizards. And his characters were so compelling - all of the kids with their nicknames - Armpit, Magnet, Zigzag, and especially Zero, and Mr. Sir and his sunflower seeds, and the ominous Warden with her rattlesnake venom fingernail polish. Offhand, I can't think of a scarier female 'bad guy' in a kid's story, and that includes both Cruella DeVille and Miss Minchon from A Little Princess.
So, two emphatic thumbs up for Holes, from both an adult and a kid. :-)