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Holes – Study Activity Guide
by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats’ family has always suffered from bad luck, the result of an ancient curse that befell his great great grandfather. This bad luck continues when, on his way home from school, Stanley is hit by a pair of running shoes that fall from the sky. Little does he know that this unusual event is going severely affect his future as well as force him to explore his past.
Unfairly accused of stealing shoes, belonging to a famous athlete, Stanley is sent to a boot camp for juvenile delinquents. The camp is called Camp Green Lake even though it is located in the middle of a desert with no lake or greenery to be seen. At the camp, Stanley is forced to bunk down with a group of miscreants who are under the control of an immoral set of counselors. The camp director, the evil Warden, makes each prisoner dig a 5 foot by 5 foot hole every day. She tells the boys it is to help them build character, but Stanley soon figures out that she has an ulterior motive. It becomes his goal to find out what she is looking for.
When Stanley finds a golden lipstick tube with the initials K.B. engraved on it, he realizes that whatever the Warden is looking for is linked to Kissing Kate Barlow, an outlaw who once robbed Stanley’s great grandfather. His deduction is confirmed when he sees a mountain shaped like a giant thumb, the mountain where his great grandfather took refuge after the robbery. Stanley comes to the conclusion that the object the Warden is searching for his Kate’s buried loot. Determined to beat her to it, Stanley and his friend Zero risk their lives secretly searching for the treasure. It is during this adventure that Stanley realizes he is no longer the fat, weak, scared little boy he was before he arrived at the camp. He has needed all of his strength and wit to stand up to the fearful warden and the deadly desert conditions. With his newfound confidence, Stanley succeeds in freeing his family from the ancient curse. In addition, he also discovers that he and Zero have a much deeper connection than friendship.
Louis Sachar is an expert at interweaving a series of stories through flashbacks. Students will be delighted to using their sleuthing abilities to discover all of the hidden interlocking puzzle pieces of the plot.
Although this novel is very entertaining for children, it also tackles a variety of social issues and helps them explore friendship and working as a team.
For more information on the novel, please visit the author's website.