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Friday, January 30, 2015

Holes

Now that I'm a sixth-grade teacher, I'll have to much more attuned to literature for young people. One book that is very popular with that age is Holes, by Louis Sachar, which I started reading with my class this week. I polished it off in one day.

I saw the movie made from the film years ago, which I believe was the first starring role for Shia LaBeouf. I remember the film as being very imaginative, and most of that come from the book. The only main difference I can remember is that the main character, Stanley (LaBeouf in the film) is fat in the book.

Stanley Yelnats (a palindromic name) has been sent to Camp Green Lake, which is neither green nor has a lake (just a dry lake bed). It is a camp for juvenile delinquent boys. Stanley was arrested for stealing a famous baseball player's shoes, though he is innocent. The punishment for the boys is to dig a hole every day in the hot Texas sun. It doesn't take too much to figure out that the warden of the camp is using the boys to look for something.

There are some parallel stories about Stanley's great-great-grandfather, who had a curse put on him by a Latvian gypsy, and then later was robbed by a legendary Western outlaw called Kissin' Kate Barlow. The book is full of dry humor, a kind of world-weary shrug, but also is about doing what's right. Their is also a lesson in racism, as a man is killed for kissing a white woman.

So far my students are enjoying Holes. Some of them have already read the book and seen the movie. I'll be showing them the film after they've read the book, and commenting here.

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