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Holes Book Summary
Sachar writes the humorous plot of Holes in a straightforward manner; however, he weaves into the plot three subplots. The subplots are tall-tale motifs that provide explanations about incidents involving previous Yelnats generations that significantly impact Stanley's life as well as the lives of others.
Stanley Yelnats (whose name is palindromic — which means that his last name is his first name spelled backward) is the protagonist (or main character) of the novel. An only child, Stanley lives with his mother and his father, who is an inventor. Stanley is a good-natured, kind, middle-school student who is ridiculed by classmates because he is overweight. Stanley's life changes dramatically after Derrick Dunne, a classmate who is much smaller than Stanley and is fond of picking on Stanley, takes Stanley's notebook and throws it in the toilet in the boys' restroom at school. Stanley misses his bus and has to walk home. While walking home, a pair of old sneakers "fell out of the sky" and hit him on the head. Excited because he thinks the sneakers will assist his father, who is trying to invent a use for old sneakers, Stanley runs toward home. The police stop Stanley and he is mistakenly arrested for stealing the sneakers.
Unfortunately, only Stanley's parents believe he is innocent. During the trial, Stanley discovers that the sneakers belonged to Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston, a famous professional baseball player who had donated his sneakers for an auction to help raise money for a homeless shelter for children. Stanley is unfairly sentenced by the judge and has a choice of going to jail or to Camp Green Lake. Because he is from a poor family and has never been to camp, he chooses Camp Green Lake.
Stanley believes that he has been unjustly accused of stealing the sneakers because of his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." When Stanley's great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats (who never really stole a pig) was 15 years old and living in Latvia, he fell in love with a girl named Myra Menke and wanted to marry her. A pig farmer named Igor also wanted to marry Myra and offered Myra's father a pig for her hand in marriage. Because Elya had nothing to offer for Myra's hand in marriage, he went to visit an Egyptian woman named Madame Zeroni, who couldn't walk. She gave Elya a piglet and specific instructions to follow. If Elya didn't follow the instructions, Madame Zeroni would put a curse on him and all of his descendents. Elya had to take the piglet up the mountain to drink from a stream, and, while the piglet was drinking, he was to sing a lullaby. On the last day, he was to carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain, let her drink from the stream, and sing the lullaby to her. Elya did not take the pig up the mountain the last day, nor did he carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain. Instead, he left Latvia on a ship for the United States of America and from that day on, experienced bad luck as a result of Madame Zeroni's curse. From then on, the Yelnats family believed they were cursed with bad luck. Stanley was not really surprised when he was arrested; he believed it was just more bad luck.
Camp Green Lake is a juvenile correctional camp for boys. It is situated in the middle of a desert — there is no lake — and it is inhabited by yellow-spotted lizards. When he arrives at the camp, Stanley meets Mr. Sir, the guard, and is told that his punishment, which is the same for all the boys, is to dig a hole each day that is five feet deep and five feet in circumference. Mr. Sir tells him that digging the holes will build character and that he is not at a Girl Scout Camp. Mr. Sir also tells Stanley to give any objects that he finds while digging to Mr. Sir and, if the Warden (Ms. Walker) thinks it is worth anything, Stanley will get the day off.
Stanley is assigned to Group D and given a cot to sleep on in a tent with the other boys in his group. He is issued two orange uniforms. His counselor is Mr. Pendanski (nicknamed "Mom"). The other boys in his tent are X-Ray (Rex), Squid (Alan), Magnet (José), Armpit (Theodore), Zigzag (Ricky), and Zero. Each day, the boys arise at 4:30
A.M. and are given a shovel with which to dig a hole. Stanley learns quickly that X-Ray is the unofficial group leader and that cooperating with X-Ray is essential to his survival. Stanley is nicknamed "Caveman" by the other boys and is accepted by them after he finds a gold tube with the inscription "KB," which he gives to X-Ray so that X-Ray can get a day off. After finding the gold tube, the digging escalates, at the Warden's command. Stanley realizes that they are not digging to build character; they are digging to find something buried in the dried up lakebed. Because the Warden believes that the gold tube was found in X-Ray's hole, she instructs the boys to dig in that area and not near Stanley's hole, where the gold tube was really found. Stanley realizes that the inscription on the gold tube could stand for "Kate Barlow."
Kissin' Kate Barlow was a feared outlaw of the Wild West. Stanley's great-grandfather, who had been riding a stagecoach from New York to California, was robbed by Kissin' Kate Barlow and was stranded in the desert for three weeks. He survived, claiming to have "found refuge on God's thumb."
Kissin' Kate Barlow was the former Katherine Barlow, a school teacher known for her delicious jarred peaches. Legend has it that Katherine Barlow, a white woman, fell in love with Sam the Onion Man, a black man. Interracial relationships were illegal in the Green Lake community. The town's citizens set out to lynch Sam because he had broken the law and kissed a white woman. Sam's donkey, Mary Lou, was killed, and as Sam and Mary Lou tried to get away, Sam was also killed. From that time on, Katherine Barlow was known as Kissin' Kate Barlow. Eventually, Trout Walker (who had wanted to marry Katherine when she was a schoolteacher) and his wife (whose appearance closely resembles that of the Warden) find Kissin' Kate and intend to torture her unless or until she tells them where her treasure is located. Kissin' Kate is killed by a yellow-spotted lizard and indicates that the treasure is buried in the dried-up lake bed.
Because Stanley doesn't want his parents to know how miserable his situation is, he writes letters to them telling them about the activities he participates in at the "recreational" camp. Zero watches him write and reveals to Stanley that he cannot read or write. They agree that Stanley will teach Zero to read and Zero will dig half of Stanley's hole each day in return.
Jealous of Stanley resting while Zero digs half of his hole, Zigzag instigates a fight with Stanley. The Warden forbids any reading lessons and tells Stanley he has to dig his own hole. Zero is angry. He refuses to dig another hole and runs away.
A few days later, after a botched attempt to steal the water truck, Stanley runs away to rescue Zero. Stanley finds Zero under an old boat with the name "Mary Lou" on the side, eating jarred peaches that he calls "sploosh." The boys leave the shade of the boat to climb the mountain they see in the distance, the mountain that resembles a fist and a raised thumb. Because Zero is quite sick, Stanley carries him up the mountain. At the top of the mountain, Stanley sings the lullaby that has been in his family for years. The boys survive on water and wild onions. Zero tells Stanley his name is Hector Zeroni and that he is the one who stole Clyde Livingston's sneakers.
Feeling better, Stanley and Hector go back to Camp Green Lake. While everyone is sleeping, they dig in the hole where Stanley found the gold tube. There they unearth a suitcase. As they pull the suitcase out of the dirt, the Warden, Mr. Sir, and Mr. Pendanski are waiting for them. Stanley's lawyer and the Texas Attorney General show up. Stan-ley's crime has been investigated further by a patent attorney hired by Stanley's father. Derrick Dunne admitted that Stanley was getting his notebook out of the toilet at school at the very time that Clyde Liv-ingston's sneakers were stolen. Stanley is innocent and can go home. The Warden tries to take the suitcase from Stanley and Zero, but the suitcase bears the name "Stanley Yelnats" on it, so Stanley can keep it. Because Zero's files cannot be found (they had been destroyed at the Warden's instructions, so that she would not have to explain why he was missing), Zero leaves with Stanley.
In the novel's last chapter, Sachar ties up the loose ends of the plot and the subplots. Stanley's father finds a cure for foot odor that smells like peaches and is called "Sploosh." Clyde Livingston does a commercial for "Sploosh." Hector (a descendant of Madame Zeroni) is at Stanley's house with his mother. The Warden, Ms. Walker (a descendant of Trout Walker), is forced to sell her land, which is going to become a camp for Girl Scouts. In the end, the story's tone is one of contentment. Stanley has rescued Zero, and the Yelnats family is finally free of Madame Zeroni's curse.
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by Louis Sachar
- Holes Summary
Stanley Yelnats IV is an overweight teenage boy from a poor family, whose future fortune depends on his inventor father discovering the secret to curing bad foot odor. The Yelnats family is said to be cursed: Stanley's great-great-grandfather did not honor a promise he made to an old woman with magical powers, and misfortune has followed him and his descendants ever since. Stanley is unlucky enough to be wrongly accused of stealing baseball star Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston's shoes, and instead of being locked up in prison, he is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention and correction facility in the middle of the desert.
After a long and lonely bus ride, Stanley arrives at the camp and meets the lazy and nasty Mr. Sir , one of the camp supervisors. He is warned to watch out for Warden Walker. Stanley also meets Mr. Pendanski , another camp supervisor. He is assigned to Tent D, where he befriends his tent mates and slowly learns the ropes of surviving in the harsh conditions of the camp: terrible food, limited shower time, an uncomfortable bed. Stanley becomes particularly good friends with a small but tough boy named Zero , whom we later discover is Hector Zeroni, a descendant of the woman who cursed the Yelnats family.
Stanley and the other boys are forced to dig a hole every day, five feet deep and five feet wide. The work is exhausting, especially in the shadeless heat of the day, and potentially dangerous: the lake is populated by yellow-spotted lizards, whose venom is strong enough to kill a person. The boys are told that the digging will teach them to work hard, and eventually facilitate their rehabilitation into society, but in reality, the Warden has a hidden agenda. She wants to find the treasure stolen and hidden by infamous bandit Kate Barlow.
The sad story of Kate Barlow is revealed later in the novel, although we learn early on that she is the one responsible for robbing Stanley Yelnats' great-grandfather of his stock market fortune and plunging the family into financial difficulties. Shortly before that time, when Green Lake was still full of water, Katherine Barlow was a beautiful young schoolteacher who fell in love with a black man - an impossible match, given the racism of the era. Her lover Sam was killed after they were caught kissing, and Kate became mad with grief, going on a killing spree that started with the sheriff and expanded into a career of banditry and murder. She earned the nickname "Kissing Kate" for kissing each of her victims with a full mouth of lipstick, leaving the mark of her lips on their skin. Legend has it that she left a great treasure buried somewhere in the desert before she committed suicide.
In Camp Green Lake, Stanley begins to teach Zero how to read. Zero eventually runs away from the camp, and a couple of days later Stanley steals the water truck and drives a short way before crashing the truck and following Zero on foot. Stanley finds Zero under an overturned and abandoned boat, eating the decades-old leftovers of the peaches that Katherine Barlow loved to make.
Since Zero is the descendant of Madame Zeroni , Stanley - although he does not know it - has the chance to put things right and break the curse that has plagued his family for generations. Stanley's great-great-grandfather received a piglet from Madame Zeroni, and instructions on how to turn it into a prize-winning pig, in return for promising to take Madame Zeroni up a mountain and to sing her a song while she drank from a life-giving stream. It was by forgetting this promise that he brought the curse down on him and his descendants.
In the present day, Stanley and Zero find themselves at the thumb-shaped mountain that Stanley spotted from afar and they begin to climb it, hoping to find water. Zero becomes too weak to continue, so Stanley carries him up - thereby fulfilling his great-great-grandfather's promise, albeit several generations late, and breaking the curse. The two boys spend a week at the lush green top of the mountain.
After coming down, the two friends go back to Camp Green Lake and find the treasure. They are caught by the warden and her supervisors and are almost killed. Stanley's lawyer shows up and takes him, Zero, and the treasure back to Stanley's family. Camp Green Lake is shut down, and the Warden sells the land to an organization that plans to turn it into a Girl Scout camp. Stanley and Zero split the treasure, and Zero uses his half to find his mother. Stanley's father is finally able to find, patent, and sell a cure for foot odor. The Yelnatses and Zeronis live the rest of their lives in comfort.
Holes Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Holes is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Write a diary that Kissin' Kate Barlow would have written if she had kept one.
Sorry, this is only a short answer space. We can't do assignments for you.
Find words in holes that stress the ideas of the wasteland and aloneness
He hated to think what kind of vile substance Mr. Sir might have put in it.
Vast / emptiness
"Oh, Sam," she would say, speaking into the vast emptiness.
Chapter 21 Summary
GradeSaver has a complete summary and analysis for Chapter 21 readily available in its study guide for the unit.
Study Guide for Holes
Holes study guide contains a biography of Louis Sachar, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About Holes
- Character List
Essays for Holes
Holes essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Holes by Louis Sachar.
- The Not So Subtle Portrayal of Supernatural Elements in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Louis Sachar’s Holes
Lesson Plan for Holes
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to Holes
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
- Related Links
- Holes Bibliography
Wikipedia Entries for Holes
86 pages • 2 hours read
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Summary and Study Guide
Louis Sachar’s 1998 children’s novel, Holes , tells the story of a boy accused of stealing. A judge sentences him to 18 months in a camp where a tyrannical warden has the boys digging holes that appear random. Holes was awarded the 1998 National Book Award and the 1999 Newbery Medal, and was adapted into a film by Disney.
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Stanley Yelnats IV is a 14-year-old boy whose family claims it is cursed due to his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather” (8). This curse is responsible for him being wrongfully convicted for stealing a pair of tennis shoes once owned by a famous athlete. Although Stanley tells the truth about how the shoes fell out of the sky and hit him in the head, the judge doesn’t believe him and sends him to a detention facility called Camp Green Lake.
When Stanley arrives at Camp Green Lake, he learns that the boys at the detention center must dig a hole five feet wide and five feet deep every single day they are there. According to the Warden , who is in charge of the facility, this builds character. The boys are instructed to pay careful attention while digging; they will be rewarded for bringing the Warden anything interesting.
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From here, the story moves back to the 19th century, to the time of Stanley’s grandfather Elya Yelnats. Elya is desperately in love with Myra, but she has also attracted the attention of an older pig farmer, Igor Barkov. He has offered Myra’s father his heaviest pig in exchange for permission to marry Myra.
Elya thinks that Myra deserves better. He goes to his friend Madame Zeroni, who warns him that Myra is not very intelligent. However, Elya is in love and does not listen to Madame Zeroni. She agrees to help him since she sees that Elya loves her. Madame Zeroni gives him a tiny piglet and tells him that if he climbs the mountain with the piglet every day and lets the pig drink from the spring while singing to it, the pig will soon be bigger than Igor’s. Once this happens, he has to promise to carry Madame Zeroni to the top of the mountain so that she can drink from the spring. If he doesn’t take Madame Zeroni, then he and his family will be doomed.
Elya promises and takes the piglet every morning up the mountain. He almost wins Myra’s hand, except his and Igor’s pigs are the same size. Myra is given the choice, but she cannot choose. Instead, she directs them to guess the number she is thinking of, but Elya has had enough. In his frustration, he forgets his promise to Madame Zeroni and moves to America. He only realizes his mistake while ocean-bound on the ship. Madame Zeroni’s curse follows him, affecting his entire family. The song he sang to the pig becomes a family lullaby.
The story moves to the history of Kissin’ Kate Barlow. It is 110 years earlier and Kate Barlow, a local teacher, falls in love with a local Black onion seller, Sam. When she is seen kissing Sam, the town of Green Lake is in an uproar. Sam is arrested and a mob burns down the schoolhouse.
Kate and Sam try to cross the lake to escape, but Trout (a man who Kate rejected) intercepts them and sinks the boat. Trout shoots Sam and rescues Kate against her will. After Sam dies, no rain falls on the town again.
Kate becomes an outlaw who leaves a trademark lipstick kiss on those she robs. She robs Stanley’s great grandfather, but instead of killing him, she leaves him in the desert where he is eventually rescued. Stanley says he survived because of God’s thumb, but nobody knows what he meant. Stanley is taken to the hospital where he meets and falls in love with a nurse whom he marries.
Twenty years later, Kate goes back to Green Lake and stays in a little cabin, but Trout and his wife, who are broke and desperate for money, intercept her. They try to force her to tell them where she keeps her stolen loot, but she is bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard and dies taunting them.
Back at present-day Camp Green Lake, it is clear the Warden is looking for something while the boys dig holes. During one dig, Stanley finds a tube of lipstick that once belonged to Kate Barlow, but he gives it to X-Ray , the leader of Group D, who convinces Stanley that he needs it more.
The Warden is excited by the discovery. They sift through X-Ray’s hole mistakenly believing that this is where the lipstick was found. Meanwhile, Stanley becomes friends with Zero . Stanley agrees to teach Zero how to read and Zero offers to dig part of Stanley’s hole every day so that Stanley has energy to teach. One day, the boys start to fight because of Zero and Stanley’s arrangement. Zero protects Stanley and then refuses to dig anymore. He hits the counselor Mr. Pendanski with his shovel and runs away. The Warden decides to leave him to die in the desert. After a few days, Stanley decides to go after Zero. Stanley finds him and notices a mountain that looks like a thumb. He remembers that his great-grandfather said he was saved by God’s thumb, so they decide to climb the nearby mountain instead of go back to camp. Zero isn’t feeling well, so Stanley carries Zero, who isn’t feeling well, up most of the mountain. He gives him water that they find at the top, breaking the curse that Madame Zeroni put on Elya Yelnats. Stanley also finds a field of onions; he and Zero and eat them for days to recover. While on the mountain, Stanley begins to believe that the gold lipstick he found in his hole might be where Kissin’ Kate Barlow’s loot is buried, so they return to Stanley’s hole and find a suitcase. The Warden tries to take it from him, but deadly, yellow-spotted lizards appear, forcing him to back away.
The onions make Stanley and Zero invulnerable to the lizards and they stay in the hole overnight. In the morning, an attorney demands Stanley’s release. Stanley and Zero get up and the yellow-spotted lizards don’t bite them. The Warden tries to get the suitcase, but Zero tells her it belongs to Stanley. On the suitcase is the name STANLEY YELNATS. The attorney takes Stanley and Zero (whose records were erased when they thought he was dead) with her out of Green Lake and back to Stanley’s family. They open the suitcase and discover Kate’s loot. The family’s fortunes turn around and rain comes to the city once again.
The book ends with a glimpse into Stanley and Zero’s lives a year and a half later. Stanley’s dad’s invention takes off and he has a Super Bowl ad for their foot deodorizer. Zero reunites with his mother, who abandoned him when he was a young boy.
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Holes by Louis Sachar
I absolutely love novels that come full circle, and Holes by Louis Sachar is one of those novels. The multiple plot lines can be confusing at first, and students may have questions about the book Holes as they read, but it all comes together in the end. This excites readers and gives them a sense of accomplishment as they realize how each plot is intertwined. Our free Holes novel study is sure to engage your students. Check out Storyboard That’s Holes book activities and our Holes lesson plans below!
Explore our fun Holes book activities now! These lesson plans are a dynamic and engaging alternative to other traditional book report ideas. Students will love creating storyboards such as a character chart, plot diagram, and more! Storyboarding allows students to demonstrate their understanding of plot, characters and literary elements with visuals and pictures as well as words. This enables students of all abilities to successfully dive deep into a novel study and enjoy the process! Our Holes lesson plans will get your students pumped about reading and analyzing this amazing story.
This is a classic novel for middle school readers that they won't soon forget, especially with Storyboard That’s Holes by Louis Sachar activities!
Student Activities for Holes
Holes by Louis Sachar Questions
- What makes a good friend?
- What is fate, and do you believe in it?
- How do your own actions shape your life?
- What is fairness? How does each plot line develop this theme?
- What is the symbolization of holes in the story?
Short Summary of the Book, Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats believes his family has been cursed. A story passed from generation to generation says that Elya, his great-great grandfather failed to fulfill a promise to an old Romani woman, who cursed him and his family. After being mistakenly convicted for stealing a pair of shoes, Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake. The name is deceptive, the camp is a detention center for boys in the middle of the Texan desert.
Stanley is thrown into tent D with a diverse mix of other juvenile delinquents, including a quiet boy named Zero. The “campers” are made to dig holes, under the watchful eye of Mr. Sir, the counselor. Mr. Sir claims it is to build character, but Stanley uncovers that the Warden is using the boys to help her search for something.
In a secondary plot, readers learn that Green Lake used to be a well-to-do area; rich and abundant, on the edge of a large lake. Kate, the school teacher, falls in love with Sam, a local medicinal salesman. When the two are caught kissing, the town is in an uproar because Sam is Black. Charles Walker, a member of the town’s richest family, wanted to court Kate. He leads the town in hunting down Sam, who is killed. Kate becomes known as the ruthless outlaw, “Kissing Kate Barlow”. As a bandit, she coincidentally robbed a man named Stanley Yelnats, the young protagonist’s great grandfather.
This first Stanley Yelnats also believed this is because of the Yelnats family curse. In Latvia, his father Elya fell in love, and wished to marry a young woman named Myra. Seeking the advice of Madame Zeroni, he was given a pig and told to carry it to the top of a mountain, allowing it to drink from the river. Once the pig grew, he could take it to Myra as a dowry. To repay Madame Zeroni, he was to carry her up the mountain to make her strong as well. When he goes to Myra, he is disgusted by her personality. Elya leaves for America, forgetting his end of the bargain.
These three stories collide when Zero and Stanley run away from the camp. After being in the desert for some time, they climb a mountain in search of water. Zero becomes weak and Stanley must carry him. When they reach the top they drink the water and Stanley sings a song taught to him by his family. Zero’s real name is Hector Zeroni, and he’s a descendant of Madame Zeroni. When Stanley carries him up the mountain and sings to him, the promise is fulfilled and the curse lifted. The boys then figure out that the Warden is a descendant of the Walker family and is in search of Kissing Kate’s buried Treasure, hence the endless digging of holes. They go back to a hole where Stanley found a lipstick container and find a box of treasure. The authorities are called in, the camp is shut down, and the boys live happily thereafter.
About the Author
Louis Sachar is a young-adult author who was born in 1954 in East Meadow, New York. Sachar graduated from University of California, Berkeley, and began writing shortly thereafter. He used his personal experiences working with children in an elementary school as inspiration for Sideways Stories from Wayside School , but added lots of comedy and silly elements to make the stories more engaging.
Around the time that this book was accepted for publication, Sachar began studying law at University of California, Hastings College of Law. Upon graduation, he did some part time law work while he wrote more children’s books. Obviously Sachar never continued with his career as a lawyer, as his true calling was a writer!
Holes is arguably the most popular of Louis Sachar’s books, earning him several awards including the Newbery Medal for the year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”. Sachar and his wife Carla have one daughter named Sherre, who is now a zookeeper. They live in Austin, Texas.
More Books By Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar has written many wonderful books for children. Here are just a few more! Use Storyboard That’s general novel study activities with any of these books today!
- The Marvin Redpost Series: Children will delight in these books about a redhead third grader named Marvin, who has many adventures investigating the paranormal!
- The Cardturner : A story for older students about a teenager named Alton who searches for the meaning of life while he drives his elderly uncle Lester to his bridge club several times a week.
- Small Steps : This New York Times bestseller is about a boy named Armpit (yes, Armpit!), who returns home to Texas after spending time in jail. As he takes small steps towards rebuilding his life, grand adventures take place, changing him forever!
- There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom : This popular story is about a boy named Bradley Chalkers, who is known as a troublemaker with behavior problems. When the school counselor sees that there’s more to Bradley than meets the eye, he begins to believe in himself and changes for the better.
- Fuzzy Mud : Sachar’s latest masterpiece is about Tamaya and Marshall, two kids who take the long way home from school to avoid a bully. When the fifth and seventh graders enter the off-limit path through the woods, adventure and trouble follows.
Discussion Questions to Use in Pairs or Groups
These questions may be used during reading, or upon completion of the novel. While it is best to get students discussing what they’ve read, these questions can also be answered individually in a reader’s notebook. It is always such a joy to hear the different opinions that students have, even though they are reading the same novel!
- Discuss the title of the book. What type of holes is Louis Sachar referring to? Just physical holes in the ground? Be sure to use examples from the text to explain your answer.
- The name “Camp Green Lake'' implies that it is a fun place for kids, just like any other summer camp. However, it is not at all what it seems. Discuss the setting of Camp Green Lake. Why is it such an important part of the story?
- The names of the characters in this book are often nicknames and seem to have some kind of meaning. Discuss these names with your group. Do you think they fit the personalities of the characters? Why do you think the author chose to do this? If you had to choose your own nickname, what would it be?
- What is karma? What happens to the Warden at the end of the book? Is this an example of karma? Be sure to look up the word karma and some examples of it, if you are unsure what this means.
- What are the things that happened to Stanley’s family over time? Do you think that Stanley’s family was really cursed with bad luck? Discuss with your group and be sure to provide textual evidence.
- Discuss the various themes of Holes with your group or partner. What do you think is the most important theme? What are the messages that the author is trying to get across?
- Stanley and Zero have an interesting friendship. They help each other and form an unlikely bond. What about each of them makes them a good friend? What are some of the relationships between the other characters like?
- The book centers around Stanley’s family history. Do you know much about your family history? What makes your family unique? Share what you know with your group.
- Because Kate and Sam were different races, the town was outraged and Sam was killed. How has the country changed since the time when this kind of racism was prevalent? How has it stayed the same?
- What are some freedoms that we have today that we may take for granted? What are some instances of freedoms taken away in Holes ? Be sure to provide examples from the text.
Ideas for Post-Reading Activities
Storyboard That is an excellent tool for students to create fun and engaging projects as a culminating activity after finishing a novel. In addition to our premade activities, here are some ideas that teachers can customize and assign to students to spark creativity in individual students, pairs, or small groups for a final project. Several of these ideas include Storyboard That templates that can be printed out or copied into your teacher dashboard and assigned digitally. All final projects can be printed out, presented as a slide show, or, for an extra challenge, as an animated GIF!
- For Groups: Choose a scene from the story and write a short play to reenact to the class. Use the traditional storyboard layout to plan out your scenes. You can add text to your storyboards, or simply use the cells to visualize each scene of your play.
- Using the timeline layout, retell the story in chronological order. Our timeline layout gives you the options to include year, month, day, and even hour! You may also choose to omit these altogether.
- Choose a setting from the story and create a map of the setting using the small poster or worksheet layout. Use free form or other text boxes to include a key or label the different parts of the map.
- Using one of Storyboard That’s board game templates , create a game based on the book for your classmates to play!
- For Groups: Divide the chapters of the book amongst your group members. Each member of the group creates a storyboard for their assigned chapter. This can be done as a collaborative project, or separately for longer novels.
- Using the worksheet layout and Storyboard That’s worksheet assets, create a test or a quiz for other students in the class. You can create all kinds of questions such as multiple choice, short answer, and even matching! When you are done, be sure to make an answer key.
- Using one of Storyboard That’s biography poster templates, create a poster about the character of your choice. Be sure to include important biographical features such as: place and date of birth, family life, accomplishments, etc.
- Choose a chapter from the novel and create a storyboard that shows that chapter from another character’s point of view. For an extra challenge, use the T-chart layout to compare the original point of view with another character’s point of view!
- Create a book jacket of the novel using one of Storyboard That’s book jacket templates. Use Storyboard That art to create the cover, and write a summary of the story on the back, just like real books have!
- Using one of Storyboard That’s social media templates as a starting point, create a social media page for one or more of the characters in the novel. Be sure to think how the character thinks while creating this page.
- Create a scrapbook page made by one of the characters in the novel. Storyboard That has lots of premade templates that you can use as is, or change to fit your character’s personality! Check out our scrapbook templates today!
Holes Book Report Ideas and Other Fun Activities for the Book Holes
- Using storyboards, depict the water cycle and explain why water is important.
- Show yellow spotted lizards in their natural habitat and answer questions about them. What do they eat? Where do they live? What are their predators? What other information could you add?
- Make up your own family curse and depict it using the storyboard layout of your choice.
- Write your own Holes book summary.
- Write your own version of the Holes book using the Storyboard That book maker!
- Make a Holes storyboard that depicts your favorite scene, or an alternate ending!
- Think of your own Holes by Louis Sachar activities or create your own Holes book pictures!
- Complete Holes activities made by a classmate!
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How to Create a Plot Diagram for "Holes" by Louis Sachar
Identify the key elements of the plot.
Identify the key elements of the plot in "Holes" by Louis Sachar, including the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Pay attention to significant events, conflicts, and character development throughout the story.
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Add the Rising Action
In the next section, add the rising action of the story. Include the series of events and obstacles that the characters encounter as they work towards resolving the conflict. Show how tension and suspense build throughout the story.
Highlight the Climax
Identify the climax, which is the turning point or most intense moment of the story. It is the peak of the conflict and often involves a major decision or confrontation. Place this event in the appropriate section of the plot diagram.
Show the Falling Action and Resolution
Illustrate the falling action, which reveals the aftermath of the climax and ties up loose ends. Depict how the conflict is resolved and the story's resolution. Show the final outcome for the main characters and any important revelations or lessons learned.
Frequently Asked Questions about Holes
What is holes, about.
Holes is story about a boy named Stanley who is sent to Camp Green Lake, a place for delinquent boys, after he was accused of a theft that he didn’t commit. While there, Stanley uncovers the history of the camp, as well as the mystery of the “curse” that he believes has plagued his family for many years.
Why is the book called Holes ?
It is obvious that one reason why the book is called Holes is because Stanley and the other boys are forced to dig holes all day. However, the holes symbolize a lot of what Stanley feels at times such as hopelessness, hardship, and adversity.
Who are the main characters in the book Holes ?
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Common sense media reviewers.
Exciting mystery is often intense but occasionally funny.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Though the past and present stories in Holes are f
"When you spend your whole life living in a hole,
Stanley is kind of a nerdy misfit who weighs more
Residents of the camp have fistfights and use shov
Sam and Katherine kiss.
In a flashback, the sheriff of Green Lake sits at
Parents need to know that Louis Sachar's Holes is a moving, action-packed, and sometimes violent mystery that won the Newbery Medal. It's about a boy named Stanley, who's falsely accused of a crime and sent to a juvenile detention center in the middle of a desert in Texas. The story will excite young readers'…
Though the past and present stories in Holes are fictional, they teach readers about the history of racism in the United States. Some information about desert wildlife.
"When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up."
Positive Role Models
Stanley is kind of a nerdy misfit who weighs more than others in his peer group. He's resourceful and adaptable when he needs to be, and his problem-solving abilities help him survive Camp Green Lake. In the "historical" parts of the story, Katherine Barlow, who's White, loves Sam, who's Black, despite the racism in her community.
Violence & Scariness
Residents of the camp have fistfights and use shovels as weapons. Guards carry guns. In a flashback, a woman is sexually assaulted by the sheriff, and a racist mob murders a Black man for kissing a White woman. A woman later shoots the sheriff.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a flashback, the sheriff of Green Lake sits at his desk drinking whiskey. He tells Katherine, "I always get drunk before a hanging."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Louis Sachar 's Holes is a moving, action-packed, and sometimes violent mystery that won the Newbery Medal. It's about a boy named Stanley, who's falsely accused of a crime and sent to a juvenile detention center in the middle of a desert in Texas. The story will excite young readers' sense of justice, as Stanley is treated most unfairly. In the flashback passages, Katherine, a White woman, loves Sam, a Black man, and they're victims of racist violence. There's threatened as well as real violence in the present-day parts of the book, including fistfights, drawn guns, attacks with shovels, and danger of poisoning. This is a more intense book than many novels for this age group, as some adults in the book treat youngsters as slaves. However, there are some funny moments, and the mysterious ways that past and present connect in the book are engaging at just the right grade level. The book was adapted for a 2003 movie , and there's a good audiobook version read by Kerry Beyer.
Where to Read
- Parents say (22)
- Kids say (113)
Based on 22 parent reviews
Good book for 5th graders and up
Too dark for younger kids, what's the story.
In HOLES, Stanley Yelnats, falsely convicted of stealing a celebrity's sneakers, is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center in the middle of the desert, where each inmate is required to dig a large hole every day. The seasoned prisoners are rough and mean, and the conditions are dreadful, especially compared with the loving home that Stanley has known. As Stanley gets to know the other boys and the grueling routine, he also realizes there's a mystery behind this strange punishment that's related to a treasure and even to the supposed curse on Stanley's family dating back to his "dirty-rotten-pig-stealing" great-grandfather. The keys to the mystery have to do with a long-gone outlaw named Kate Barlow, a young boy called Zero, a greedy warden with rattlesnake venom nail polish, and whatever is buried in the parched desert of Green Lake.
Is It Any Good?
As Louis Sachar's edgy plot weaves between intersecting stories, past and present, the author creates a unique mystery, full of twists and danger. This novel includes violence and cruelty, and it may be somewhat intense for some young readers. However, there are funny moments, too, and mystery lovers will be fascinated as the story unfolds. It's also a great book for parents and teachers to introduce simple concepts of literary analysis and use of language, as the word "holes" has multiple meanings in the book.
This Newbery winner is often a hit with fourth and fifth grade readers who are ready for something that's intellectually a little bit challenging, as well as a fair bit darker than most novels for their grade level.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Stanley survives Camp Green Lake in Holes . How did his life before the camp prepare him for this experience?
How do Stanley and Zero help each other? How do their different abilities and backgrounds make them useful to each other?
Have you seen the movie of Holes ? How is the film different from the book?
- Author : Louis Sachar
- Genre : Adventure
- Topics : Adventures , Friendship , Great Boy Role Models
- Book type : Fiction
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date : May 9, 2000
- Publisher's recommended age(s) : 9 - 12
- Number of pages : 233
- Available on : Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award : Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated : May 17, 2021
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Holes, by Louis Sachar | Book Review
Book Review of Holes The Children’s Book Review
Written by Louis Sachar
Ages 9+ | 272 Pages
Publisher: Scholastic (1998) | ISBN-13: 9780374312640
What to Expect: Mystery and Adventure
Are you ready for adventure? Look no further than this award-winning modern classic! Holes is a captivating story of curses, crime, and redemption that keeps readers on the edge.
Follow Stanley Yelnats as he finds himself at Camp Green Lake, a place filled with endless days of digging holes in the hope of character improvement. But as he uncovers the truth about the lake’s past, he realizes he’s on a mission to uncover an even darker secret. With its witty humor and skillful storytelling, this jigsaw puzzle of a novel will keep readers on their toes until the very last page.
The blend of humor and mystery, with scenes happening both in the past and present, leaves readers questioning everything. An unlucky and cursed protagonist, Stanley Yelnats’s character development throughout the novel is incredible, as the cylindrical holes of Camp Green Lake turn out to be anything but mere character-building activities.
Louis Sachar, the author of the magnificent novel Holes , dedicated a year and a half of his life to crafting this unforgettable story. During the creative process, Sachar displayed immense commitment and attention to detail as he rewrote the story not once or twice but a total of five times to ensure perfection. Interestingly, the novel’s protagonist, Stanley, unwittingly enters Camp Green Lake for precisely the same period it took Sachar to create this fan-favorite novel.
It is worth noting that Sachar transitioned from a successful career as a lawyer to becoming a highly acclaimed writer, receiving accolades that include the distinguished Newbery and National Book Awards.
An intelligent story that proves adventure exists in the most unexpected of places, kids will happily embark on the must-read, unforgettable literary journey that is Holes !
Buy the Book
About the author.
Louis Sachar was born in New York. He was inspired to write children’s books after working as a teacher’s aide to gain extra credit. After graduation he worked in a sweater warehouse in Connecticut and wrote at night. He was soon fired from that job and moved onto law school where in his first week of study Sideways Stories From Wayside School was published.
In 2000 Louis Sacher wrote Holes which became both an instant classic and a film starring Sigourney Weaver. Holes was his first book to be published in the UK and continues to prove popular among younger readers. Once Louis Sachar begins writing a new book he refuses to talk to anyone until it is finished and entry to his office is barred apart from his two dogs.
Bianca Schulze reviewed Holes . Discover more books like Holes by reading our reviews and articles tagged with Mystery and Adventures .
- X (Twitter)
Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.
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Book Report On Holes
Holes by Louis Sachar is a novel about a boy named Stanley Yelnats who is sent to a camp called Camp Green Lake for stealing sneakers. The novel follows Stanley’s time at the camp and the strange occurrences that take place there. Holes is an enjoyable read and is perfect for young adults.
Sachar does an excellent job of creating a suspenseful and mysterious atmosphere at Camp Green Lake. Holes is an award-winning novel and was made into a movie in 2003. If you’re looking for an enjoyable and well-written book, be sure to check out Holes. You won’t regret it.
Camp Green Lake is a camp located in the middle of the desert. It’s a very hot and dry place, and there’s not much to do there. The only thing that Camp Green Lake is known for is its lake, which is now nothing more than a dried-up hole in the ground. Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake after being caught stealing sneakers. He’s curious about why he was sent to the camp, and he wants to know what happened to the lake.
When Stanley arrives at Camp Green Lake, he meets Mr. Sir, who is in charge of the camp. Mr. Sir tells Stanley that the reason he’s at Camp Green Lake is because Camp Green Lake is a place where boys learn to become men. He also tells Stanley that the boys at the camp have to dig holes all day, and that if they don’t dig deep enough, they’ll get a whipping.
Stanley quickly learns that there’s more to Camp Green Lake than meets the eye. He soon realizes that the lake was drained because Mr. Sir and the other counselors at the camp are looking for something. Stanley doesn’t know what it is, but he’s determined to find out. As he starts digging holes, Stanley begins to piece together the puzzle of what happened at Camp Green Lake. Holes is an excellent book and is sure to keep you entertained from beginning to end.
The significance of friendship and the impact of fate and destiny are two primary themes in Holes. When Sachar composes, he does not intend to deliver a specific moral or lesson. Instead, he creates characters that his readers can relate to and puts them in events that are exciting to read about.
Holes is no different in this regard. The story has a number of memorable characters, including Stanley Yelnats IV, the protagonist and victim of a family curse, Zero, a fellow inmate at Camp Green Lake who becomes Stanley’s best friend, and Mr. Sir, the cruel warden of the camp.
One of the primary themes in Holes is that our choices determine our fate. Stanley is an example of this theme. He is an unlucky person because of the curse on his family, but he also makes some bad choices that only make his situation worse. For instance, he steals Clyde Livingston’s shoes and later runs away from camp instead of facing the consequences for his actions. These poor decisions result in him being sent to Camp Green Lake, where he endures a number of hardships.
Another theme in Holes is the importance of friendship. Stanley and Zero are the best example of this. They are very different people, but they become close friends because they both need someone to rely on. Zero has been abandoned by his family and Stanley has been unlucky all his life. They help each other through their tough times at Camp Green Lake and eventually escape together.
Holes is an entertaining and enjoyable book that deals with some important themes. It is one of Sachar’s most popular books and has been made into a movie. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do so. You won’t be disappointed.
Holes, by Louis Sachar, is a fantastic read for those who enjoy exciting fiction. Stanley Yelnats is arrested by police officers on the charge of stealing a baseball player’s sneakers and is sentenced to juvenile detention.
He is sent to a camp called Camp Green Lake where he has to dig holes all day long. The other boys in the camp are also serving time for different crimes. Stanley quickly realizes that there is something strange going on at the camp and starts investigating what is really happening. Holes is a page-turner that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it.
Louis Sachar is a master storyteller and he does a great job of keeping the suspense level high throughout the entire book. Holes was made into a movie in 2003 and it was very successful. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend that you do because it’s one of my favorites. Holes is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
Holes is a great book that was written by Louis Sachar. It’s a perfect book for people who love suspenseful stories because it will keep you on the edge of your seat until you finish it. Stanley Yelnats is falsely accused of stealing someone’s shoes and is sent to juvenile detention center. He is later transferred to Camp Green Lake where he has to dig holes all day long. Stanley quickly realizes that there is something strange going on at the camp and starts investigating what is really happening. Holes is an exciting book with lots of suspense that you won’t be able to put down.
First and foremost, Holes is an adventure tale. … Given the narrative construction of this book, in which the reader must assemble the various narratives to figure out what the Warden truly wants and Camp Green Lake really is, it could also be classified as a mystery or detective story.
Secondly, Holes is also a story about love and family. … Stanley is ultimately saved by the love of his family and their determination to find him.
Lastly, Holes is an important commentary on the justice system in America. … The novel critiques the American legal system by highlighting its failures, particularly in regards to juveniles. It also offers a different perspective on how juvenile delinquents should be treated and rehabilitated. Sachar’s portrayal of Camp Green Lake is ultimately a hopeful one, suggesting that with the right kind of rehabilitation, juvenile delinquents can become upstanding members of society.
This message is an important one, given the increasing number of juveniles who are being incarcerated in America. Holes provides a much-needed corrective to the harsh and often ineffective justice system currently in place.
Holes is a 1998 novel written by Louis Sachar. It tells the story of Stanley Yelnats IV, a teenager who is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, after being wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes. The novel follows Stanley’s experiences at the camp and his attempts to find out what really happened to his great-grandfather. Holes is an adventure story, a love story, and a commentary on the American justice system. It is an important and insightful book that should be read by everyone.
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Holes by Louis Sachar
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Chapters 14-20, chapters 21-28, chapters 29-35, chapters 36-42, chapters 43-50, literature circles.
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