Author: Louis Sachar
Target Audience: 10 years and up
Genre: Adventure; humor
Publication Year: 1998
Setting: Shifts between contemporary Camp Green Lake, Texas (where there is no water) and one hundred and ten years earlier when there was an actual lake at Green Lake, Texas
A Favorite Quote: “A lot of people don’t believe in curses. A lot of people don’t believe in yellow spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn’t make a difference whether you believe in it or not.”
My One Sentence Summary: When Stanley Yelnats is sent to a detention center in Camp Green Lake for a crime he didn’t commit, he finds himself digging endless holes in the hot sun, making new friends (and enemies)…and breaking the curse that has haunted his family ever since his no-good-dirty-rotten great-great-grandfather stole that pig.
What I loved about this book: I thought the story was extremely original—I particularly liked the shifting timelines and the collisions between the past and the present. I enjoyed the characters (with names like Zigzag, Armpit, Zero, and Mr. Sir, I found them extremely memorable). The narration is witty and humorous and matches the novel’s unique content and style.
Major themes: Overcoming adversity; the inevitable (or should it be the coincidental?) nature of fate; perseverance against overwhelming odds; staying true to oneself
Who should read this book: This storyline has the potential for wide appeal—for both girl and boy readers, as well as readers of both historical and contemporary fiction. Anyone looking for a good adventure story with humorous overtones should try this novel.