Stanley could choose between the Camp and jail. He chose Camp Green Lake.
Stanley went to Camp Green Lake by bus. During the trip he thought about the story of his great-great-grandfather. He was from Europe and when he was seventeen years old he moved to America. He wrote a little song that he sang to his children, and so on for generations.
Stanley arrived to the Camp, where Mr. Sir and Mr. Pendanski waited for him. Mr. Pendanski took Stanley to tend D, where other guys already waited for him. His bed was in the corner. It had been Barf Bag’s bed, but he was bitten by a rattle snake and he would not return. The other boys in tend D were Squid (Alan), X-Ray (Rex), Magnet (Jose), Armpit (Theodore), Zigzag (Ricky) and Zero (Hector). Zero was just there, but he existed for nobody.
Stanley was at Camp Green Lake, because he stole “Sweet Feet’s” baseball sneakers. But it wasn’t Stanley to steal them, they had simply fallen down from a bridge onto his head, where the police officers found them.
X-Ray told Stanley, that the first hole was the hardest. In fact, after digging for a while, on his hands came out big blisters. Of course the other guys finished before him, they spat in their holes, before returning on foot to the tent.
In Texas, especially at Camp Green Lake, there are a lot of snakes and scorpions. If someone was bitten by a rattle snake he could survive and also the bite of a scorpion wasn’t fatal, but there was no chance to survive the bite of a yellow spotted lizard. They were yellow with white spots and a red tongue.
Soon Stanley and the other became “friends” or better Stanley and they weren’t enemies. They watched TV and played card in the big tent together.
When Stanley dug his fifth or sixth hole he found a fossil. Mr. Sir told him on his first day, that if he would find something and the Warden would like it, he would get the day off, but the Warden was not interested in a fossil.
Once a week, in the evening, the guys from tend D discussed with Mr. Pendanski what they would do, when they could leave the camp. Armpit loved animals, so they talked about jobs where he could work with animals. Everybody had clear ideas about what they wanted to do, exept Zero. He liked to dig holes.
One day, very early in the morning, at four o’clock, when they started digging, Stanley found a golden lipstick holder. He told the other guys and X-Ray, the leader, extorted it from Stanley and gave it to Mr. Sir, who brought it to the Warden, who very liked it and gave X-Ray the day off.
After the found of the lipstick holder, the Warden personally came to see X-Ray’s hole, the one where “he” found it (it was Stanley who found it, in another hole). The Warden told Mr. Sir to never let the water bottles of the guys empty, in order to make them dig faster. It was
sure; they weren’t digging to build character, they certainly were looking for something.
Kissin’ Kate Barlow was a teacher. When she was accused of treason, she became a bandit. She stole money and jewels from rich people and gave them the poor. She had a very big treasure, but she never told anybody where she hid them. And probably the lipstick holder was a piece of the treasure.
Soon Stanley understood why the other guys called Hector, Zero, because he was an analphabet. Zero asked Stanley to teach him, but Stanley was too exhausted after digging all day, to have the energy to teach Zero reading and writing.
Mr. Sir came with the water truck and when he went to the tent again, Zigzag gave everybody some sunflower seeds, which he stole from the truck. When the seeds came to Stanley he didn’t catch them and all seeds fell into his hole. In this moment Mr. Sir came back to the digging point, because he noticed that the seeds weren’t on the trick anymore.
Zero and Stanley made a compromise; Stanley thought zero how to read and write and Zero helped him to dig the hole. As soon as zero was finished, he helped Stanley to dig. They finished quickly, because zero was a fast digger. They went back to the tent, took a shower and on the only table in the big tent they started with the „lesson“.
Mrs. Katherine Barlow hid the treasure somewhere on the lake. When she died, bitten by a yellow sotted lizard, her „old friends“ searched the treasure everywhere, till they understood that the last way to find it, was digging holes. The whole family and generations dug to find the treasure, but they never found anything.
One morning Mr. Sir came with the water truck and on his face there was an earful scratch. The scratch came from the nail polish made by the warden herself. It was made of rattle snake toxin and it was very dangerous. Probably the Warden scratched Mr. Sir with the wet nail polish.
Mrs. Katherine Barlow fell in love with Sam. He was an African man and nobody ever gave him a chance, to let him show that he was a good man, except Mrs. Katherine. Sam had a donkey and he sold onions in the village. When Katherine saw him she was very happy and another person. She always brought him homemade apricot jam and Sam gave her some onions. The people in town didn’t understand their love and one day they killed Sam, while he was sailing on the lake.
Mr. Sir hated Stanley and he never filled his water bottle full, just only the half and the other half he threw on the ground. But one day, he had a very good day and he gave Stanley a double sandwich. That was a strange day and the strangest was that in the evening it began to rain. There was a big storm with thunders and blizzards. The next day wasn’t as hot as all the others.
The guys were digging, when Mr. Pendanski came to see what they were doing and how they were working. He saw zero helping Stanley dig, and he asked why he was doing that. Zero told him it was a compromise between him and Stanley and of course Mr. Pendanski wanted to know what kind of compromise it was. They told him and Mr. Pendanski began to laugh. He asked Zero to spell a word with a silent „h“ in it and of course zero didn’t answer correctly, so Mr. Pendanski laughed at him again and Zero became furious. He hit the shovel into Mr. Pendanski’s belly and run away. They informed the Warden, but she didn’t care because he would die anyway without water. And nobody else cared about him, because Zero was nobody.
Zero didn’t come back. Nobody thought anymore about him, except Stanley. He was sure that Zero was still alive and hang out a plan.
While Mr. Sir was filling the water bottles, Stanley got onto the truck and with full gas he drove away with it, but he drove just eighty meters, then he got stuck in a hole. He panicked, went out of the truck and ran with his shovel and water bottle as fast as he could. Far away from the camp.
Stanley walked for two long hours in the desert. There was nothing and of course he didn’t find zero. So he decided to go back, even if he was expecting a big punishment, but that was much better then dying of thirst in the desert.
But there, only fifty meters far away, he saw a wood box and he decided to see first what it was and then to return to the camp.
The wood box was an old boat and under it there was something moving. Stanley was scared, because he thought he had seen a yellow spotted lizard.
But under the boat there was zero. Stanley couldn’t believe it. He was so happy to see zero alive.
Of course Stanley wanted to know how zero was able to survive four days under the hot sun without water. Zero found some old jam in the boat, that probably was over fifty years old, but Stanley was very thirsty so he had a mouthful. Zero called this liquid „splush“. Stanley noted that zero was really sick and in fact after a short time, Zero threw up all the „splush“.
Stanley looked around, in the direction of the mountains. One mountain seemed the „Big Thumb“ where, the legend said, there should be water on the top of it and it was there where Sam picked up these very healthy onions, which he sold in the village.
Zero didn’t want to go back to the camp, so they gave it a try and went to the „Big Thumb“ without water or food.
Narrowly the guys climbed up the mountain. Zero was completely exhausted, so Stanley had to help him. Finally after hours and hours they came to the top and there was a big surprise. There was a pool spring. The two boys jumped in and drank all the water they could. The water was cool and they had a relaxing bath. There were also onion plants in the water and the boys ate as much as they could. After relaxing a bit they decided to pass the night on the mountain.
Before falling asleep the boys talked about many things. At a certain point Zero was very strange. Stanley asked him if he was alright, but zero didn’t answer. After a while zero told Stanley that he was the one, who stole the sneakers. They were just old sneakers and nobody used them, so he took them, and when someone saw that the shoes were missing everybody panicked, So Zero ran out of the orphan home, where he loved. He felt strange with these sneakers on and then he noticed that the police was following him. So he took the shoes off and threw them off the bridge, and they fell onto Stanley’s had, where the police found them. Then Zero went into a sneaker shop and stole new ones, they caught him and arrested him.
The next day they talked about what they did before they went to Camp Green Lake.
Zero lived in a nice house and his room was small, but he loved it. After some years his father disappeared and he and his mother left the house. One day Zero’s mother told him to wait at the playground while she was going to get something to eat. Zero waited for days but she never came back. After a week that he slept at the playground some women brought him to an orphan home.
After fourteen days the guys decided to return to the camp and to dig the last hole, a hole near to that on where Stanley found the lipstick tube. They started when the sun was almost behind the mountain and after two or three hours they arrived at the camp. They had one shovel and Stanley started to dig and Zero went to the big tend to get a shovel.
They dug not very deep, but they found the treasure chest of Kissin’ Kate Barlow. In that moment Mr. Sir, Mr. Pendanski and the Warden discovered them.
The Warden smiled, was very happy and excited that they had finally found the treasure she had been searching for years. The Warden told them to give it to her, but now with the stronger light, M. Sir switched on, they saw that they were inside a nest of yellow sotted lizards, that usually bite as soon as they take a smell of human. But Stanley and Zero just stood there and the lizards didn’t react.
They stood there until the sun was up. Then they heard a car coming. It was Stanley’s lawyer. She came to collect Stanley, because they discovered that he was innocent.
Now Stanley and Zero understood that the yellow sotted lizards weren’t interested in them. So they came out of the hole and went to the house of the Warden to check the documents. After the escape of the two boys the Warden cancelled all the documents and witness that they had been at the camp. The lawyer took Stanley and zero and told them to sit in the car. She didn’t care about the treasure, but Zero said loudly that on the treasure there was written Stanley Yelnats’s name.
The lawyer took the boys and the treasure and went straight back home by car. The limousine was air-conditioned and after a long time the boys felt well.
Stanley took Zero to his home and his parents loved him like a son. They opened the treasure chest and found documents, which were over one hundred years old. With that money Zero did organize a private agent to search his mother and she was found. Stanley’s father finally found the right solution to make stinky sneakers smell better and Sweet Feet made publicity for that product.
The Warden had to sell the ground and Camp Green Lake was transformed into a girls scout camp and the little girls had nothing to be afraid, because they gave them onions to eat, in order to keep the yellow spotted lizards away.
Louis Sachar was born on March 20, 1954 in East Meadow. He lived there until he finished elementary school. His father worked on the 78th floor of the Empire State Building and Louis loved that office, he was very proud of his father. When Louis was ten years old, his family moved to California, where he concluded his studies.
He went to college and then to the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in economics. During his study he helped out as a teacher at Hills Elementary School. In 1980 he finished, he did a part-time job and at the same time he wrote children books. In 1989 he sold many copies, so that he could stop practicing law and dedicate himself fully to writing.
His wife Carla was a counselor at elementary school when they married in 1985. Two years later their daughter was born. Their daughter was born in Texas, from where they never moved. Louis Sachar and his wife live still in Austin, Texas.
He sold over eight million copies worldwide of his book „Holes“ and it was translated into twelve languages. Walt Disney made a movie out of the book. Mr. Sachar is a well known author for teenagers and he also won some prizes like the National Book Award and the Newbery Award. „Holes“ was nominated the Liverpool City Title and won the Sheffelfield Book Award in the United Kingdom.
Louis Sachar is an excellent author for children and teenagers. He writes in a simple way; I understood the story perfectly, single words are difficult, but I understood them in the context. Maybe his teenage books are a little bit too easy for English speaking guys, but for me that book was perfect.
I can imagine the story very well in my mind. Everything in the book is clear, even if two stories are narred at the same time. One story talks about Stanley Yelnats IV, a teenager, and what he does now and the other one is told in the past, of what happened one hundred years ago, and he tells about Stanley’s great-great-grandfather and the bandit Kissin’ Kate Barlow.
(c) Jenny Kostner