Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
Holes directed by Andrew Davis (2003)
Stanley Yelnats is walking home when a pair of shoes fall from the sky. Turns out they belong to a famous baseball player who was donating them to charity because they are worth so much money. Stanley is arrested and sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile rehabilitation center where the kids dig a hole every day in the heat.
Stanley befriends the other kids, especially a kid named Zero. Stanley realized the Warden isn’t having them dig holes because she thinks it helps their character, rather she is looking for something that she believes to be buried.
Stanley and Zero’s friendship was fate, because Stanley’s ancestor caused a curse to fall on the Yelnats family when he didn’t fulfill a promise he had made to Zero’s ancestor. Stanley ends up rectifying the lost promise and lifting the curse.
Camp Green Lake is shut down, Stanley and Zero find the treasure the warden had been in search of, and because the curse is lifted and the Yelnats’ no longer have bad luck-his dad creates an invention that actually works!
Throughout all of this, we also learn the history of Camp Green Lake and how a schoolteacher named Kate had fallen in love with a black man named Sam and the townspeople killed Sam for it. She then became the outlaw “Kissin’ Kate” because after she killed a guy, she would kiss him. She is the one the buried the “treasure” so to speak, which she had stolen from the Yelnats ancestor.
This is a great book for kids around 10 and up. It reminded me of Ghetto Cowboy in a way, where he introduces some big topics and is a great way to get kids aware of these things in the world. In Holes we deal with racism, poverty, bullying and greed.
Sachar is also the author of the Wayside School books which I hadn’t realized! I loved reading those as a kid but didn’t know it was by the same author!
I love the movie because not only is it a great movie, but it is one I remember watching as a kid. It brings back all those childhood memories. We have a great cast-a young Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Arquette, and Henry Winkler. It also has bearded dragons! The yellow spotted lizards live in the desert of Camp Green Lake and in the movie, they had bearded dragons portray these poisonous lizards. I love bearded dragons, and reptiles in general, so that was cool to see.
Louis Sachar adapted the novel himself, and the movie is very similar to the book. (By the way, Sachar has a cameo as a guy whose wife buys onion juice from Sam). Any changes aren’t even any of any importance, just minor things.
Changes from book to movie
One change in the book is that Stanley is overweight and is bullied at school. Even though he loves his parents, he just isn’t a happy kid and blames it on his “no good dirty rotten pig stealing great great grandfather”. Even though as said, he doesn’t know if he believes in the curse, but it is nice to have something to blame when things go wrong.
In the movie Stanley isn’t overweight and I don’t recall ever hearing talk of him being bullied.
Another small change is that Stanley’s grandfather lives with him and his parents, in the book that wasn’t the case.
Another change is when Trout Walker and his wife find Kissin’ Kate, in the movie they threaten her, then she gets a yellow spotted lizard and has it bite her. In the book, they tie her legs and take her shoes off so she has to hobble through the desert barefooted. After this goes on for a bit, she sees a lizard and has it bite her.
When Stanley is teaching Zero how to read and write, in the book Stanley refuses saying he is too tired. But then I think Zero offers to dig part of his hole and Stanley agrees. In the movie Stanley agrees to teach him, but during the lessons Zero can see how tired Stanley is and that is when he offers to help dig his hole. In both book and movie, the other boys are annoyed by this and it leads to fighting.
A detail that was added in the movie I liked, when Stanley finds the lipstick, there had happened to be a very large rock he had picked up out of the hole and set beside it. This later helps him find the hole again and they are able to dig and find the treasure. In the book this isn’t said, and it seemed unrealistic that Stanley would know which hole it was, considered there are sooo many holes all around. The rock also resembles Madam Zeroni.
Then with Kate and Sam, after she sees the sheriff about the school being burned and learns they want to kill Sam, she finds him and they leave in the boat together but then Sam is killed. In the movie, she isn’t in the boat with him when this happens.
The last change is that in the end of the movie, we find out Mr. Sir is named Marion and is a criminal. In the book this isn’t said, but the Warden, Mr. Sir and Mr. Pendanski are arrested for malpractice at the camp.
Book vs movie
In the end, I like the movie better. It follows the book almost exactly, so much of the dialogue is straight from the book, the events are all the same, but in the movie, you get to watch the great performances given and see this great story come to life. Plus, you get to see some bearded dragons!