Friday, August 24, 2007

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published in 1998. 233 pages.
Awarded the Newbery Medal in 1999.

I'm a multi-tasking fool with my reading of Holes, having first selected for the Newbery Challenge and then putting it (as well as several other Newbery Medal winners) on my Book Awards Reading Challenge. Finally, because I had purchased A Reading Guide to Holes a couple of years ago, I picked Holes to read and discuss with my eleven-year-old daughter as part of our summer Read Together project.

My daughter Sugar Plum had previously read Holes, and then we rented the movie as a family - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So this was a re-read for her - and a post-movie-viewing for both of us.

After Part I of the book, I asked Sugar Plum to write a post about the book. You can see that here.

Now that we're done with the book, she and I are both writing about two questions (which we also discussed):

1. All of the children in this book are boys. Do you think that this is a "boy book"? Why or why not?

It actually didn't occur to me until I was finished reading that there were no female children in this book. To me that means that the story and the message are gender-less. While I have read an interview with author Louis Sachar in which he talked about writing for reluctant male readers, I do think that this book can appeal to everyone. Besides, I don't believe in "girl books" and "boy books" as a matter of general principle! One last thought: A long time ago, before I had children, I took a women's studies course at UCLA in which I did a small research project on the main characters of Newbery Medal winners to determine how stereotypically male or female they were. Not surprisingly, Newbery book characters are generally non-stereotypical, as I would expect from the best children's literature.

2. How do you think the book compares to the movie? Which did you like better?

I almost always like the book better than the movie. In this case, though, perhaps because I saw the movie before reading the book and because I saw the movie quite a while ago, I can't really say that I liked one better than the other. I did see Sigourney Weaver every time Warden Walker appeared on the page, and I pictured Khleo Thomas as Zero too.

You can read Sugar Plum's answers here.

By the way, you can find other "Read Together" reviews here.



  1. Great book. Good point on the girl book vs boy book. I read Lord of the Flies and never thought of it as a "boy" book either and there are no girls in it either.

  2. I don't think I ever think about boy vs. girl books. I love the idea of reading and blogging with your daughter. She'll have great memories.

  3. Cool, this sounds really neat.

  4. I love your analysis of gender in this book. I saw the movie, but it's been many years (4 or more?), so I'm probably ready to read the book.

  5. I know it doesn't matter about boys and girls in books, but in trying to encourage my son to read (he's 9 now) I did look for boy main characters, and Holes was his first 'big' book to read. Well, he blanched when I gave it to him - there are 50 chapters!- but he got into it and loved it. He does prefer books with boys right now, so we look for male main characters - hello, Harry Potter; and he has loved the Bruno and Boots books by Gordon Korman.