A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Pete Seeger (Abiyoyo), Karen Heywood (The Saddlebag Hero), Mavis Jukes (Blackberries in the Dark), and Joe Murray (Who Asked the Moon to Dinner?).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Suekichi Akaba (1910-1990), Suhoâ€™s White Horse: A Mongolian Legend; John Ney (1923â€“2010), Ox: The Story of a Kid at the Top.
- Margaret Mitchellâ€™s epic Gone with the Wind wins Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Read Gone by Michael Grant and The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins.
- In 1960, the Anne Frank House opened in Amsterdam. Read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Anne Frankâ€™s Tales from the Secret Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings.
For Get Caught Reading Month I want to talk about a book published in 1998 destined to become a classic. Whenever I ask audiences which book of the last fifteen years seems most poised for classic status, one title leads all the rest, Louis Sacharâ€™s Holes. A rare winner of the Triple Crown in prizes (National Book Award, Newbery Medal, Boston Globeâ€“Horn Book Award), Holes has gained a devoted readership among the ten through fourteen crowd. After all, it is hard to resist a book with a character called Armpit.
However, Holes goes well beyond surface appeal and satisfies readers on a very deep level. Louis Sachar began his career as a lawyer but went on to create a body of appealing, light, and funny middle-grade novels, with titles such as Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Thereâ€™s a Boy in the Girlsâ€™ Bathroom. Holes, however, broke the mold of his earlier work: funny, but also weighty, profound, and meticulously crafted, it established Sachar as one of the most important childrenâ€™s book writers of the twentieth century.
For his masterpiece, Sachar drew inspiration from something he knew very well first hand: hot Texas summers. He has said, â€śAnyone who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in July can easily imagine Hell to be a place where you are required to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across day after day under the brutal Texas sun.â€ť In Holes the protagonist Stanley Yelnatsâ€”whose name is a palindromeâ€”get sentenced to a boot camp for juvenile delinquents. At Camp Green Lake, a misnomer because nothing actually grows there and no lake exists, he and his fellow inmates have to dig a five-foot-square hole each day while supervised by a terrible warden who has venom-tipped finger nails. Buried treasure, yellow-spotted lizardsÂ¸ and Kissinâ€™ Kate Barlow, an outlaw, all add to the flavor of this adventure, survival novel, and tall tale.
At first many critics seemed surprised that such a sophisticated novel could come from the pen of someone known for lighthearted titles. But Sacharâ€™s editor, Frances Foster, was not surprised when she read the manuscript. She had always known that Sachar had a great book in him and realized, while working on Holes, that he had written such a book. The manuscript went through at least five complete revisions, with both author and editor making sure all the details of this complex plot fit together. The attention to detail and the author and editorâ€™s commitment to making the book as perfect as possible made a difference with Holes. It would always have been a good book, but it became a great one. Fortunately, for fans of the book, Sachar himself worked on the screenplay for a highly successful movie that remains true to the original novel.
Sachar has summed up the moral or lesson of Holes quite simply, â€śReading is fun.â€ť There can be no better slogan to celebrate Get Caught Reading Month than that one.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Holes:
A lot of people donâ€™t believe in curses.
A lot of people donâ€™t believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesnâ€™t make a difference whether you believe in it or not.
Actually, it is kind of odd that scientists named the lizard after its yellow spots. Each lizard has exactly eleven yellow spots, but the spots are hard to see on its yellow-green body.
The lizard is from six to ten inches long and has red eyes. In truth, its eyes are yellow, and it is the skin around the eyes which is red, but everyone always speaks of its red eyes. It also has black teeth and a milky white tongue.
Looking at one, you would have thought that it should have been named a â€śred-eyedâ€ť lizard, or a â€śblack-toothedâ€ť lizard, or perhaps a â€śwhite-tonguedâ€ť lizard.
If youâ€™ve ever been close enough to see the yellow spots, you are probably dead.
Originally posted May 3, 2011. Updated for .