Saturday, March 10, 2007

Holes and Sploosh

When I asked my ten year old son what he remembered and liked most about this book, the first thing he said was "sploosh" (the name one of the characters in the book comes up with for some ancient jars of peach preserves). Then he described the poisonous "yellow-spotted lizards" and the kids at Camp Green Lake, all digging holes, all "exactly five feet deep and five feet around".

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. :-)


Sandy D. said...

Also, the Newbery trivia book notes that "Louis Sachar doesn't like hot weather", which is funny and telling when you consider all of the scenes he wrote about that take place in the blazing hot desert.

rebel said...

2 emphatic thumbs up at our house, too. My son and I read it probably 2 years ago, when he was 10. It's my favorite of any Newbery book I recall, though I haven't gone back and read any of them for this project.

Flusianna said...

Although I have not yet read "Holes" or seen the movie, the Children's Literature instructor at my University said she felt the movie was a very good representation of the book. She also stated that students who have read "The Bridge to Terabithia" and seen that movie did not feel the book was well represented. Do any of you agree or disagree?

Sandy D. said...

I saw Holes (the movie) a few years ago, and as far as I can remember, it was a pretty good representation of the book.

I haven't seen "Bridge" yet - and I need to re-read the book - but since I sobbed through the second half of the book, I'm a bit apprehensive about going to see the movie. And I know I don't want to take my kids. My 10 y.o. son lost a friend to a car accident when he was 7, and I think this just strikes too close to home for home. I'll probably see it on video when it comes out.