Great Illustrated Books


By Louis Sachar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 1998
Pages : 240
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up
ISBN: 9780780799608

For stealing a famous basketball player's sneakers, overweight, unlucky, but innocent Stanley Yelnats, is sentenced to hot, desolate Camp Green Lake in Texas, a detention center for bad boys. Every day each of the teen inmates must dig a hole five feet around and five feet deep in the bone dry lakebed. Zero, mocked by all because he can't read, is the best digger. He and Stanley become allies, running away together when staying at camp becomes life threatening. There are several subplots running through the book, including the famous 19th century outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow and her connection with Stanley's great great grandfather, cursed for eternity by Madame Zeroni; poisonous yellow-spotted lizards; the tragic story of Sam the onion man; and a frantic search for buried treasure. Everything does tie together in unlikely but satisfying ways in this innovative and intricately plotted, all-time great and classic Newbery and National Book Award winner.

Readers can discuss and decide which is more satisfying, the book or the movie. They’ll probably want to follow up with the sequel, Small Steps, about the subsequent lives of the characters Armpit and X-Ray. Find information about the author and his books and watch a trailer of the movie at

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. Putnam, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0142403709

Creech, Sharon. Ruby Holler. HarperCollins, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0060560157

Farmer, Nancy. House of the Scorpion. Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0689852237

Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0064407472

Paterson, Katherine. Jip: His Story. Dutton, 1996.

Paulsen, Gary. The Haymeadow. Delacorte, 1992. ISBN-13: 978-0440409236

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic, 1998. (And others in the Harry Potter series.) ISBN-13: 978-0439362139

Sachar, Louis. Dogs Don't Tell Jokes. Knopf, 1991. ISBN-13: 978-0747555247

Sachar, Louis. Small Steps. Random House, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0385733151

Sachar, Louis. There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom. Knopf, 1987. ISBN-13: 978-0007178636

Sachar, Louis. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. HarperTrophy, 2005, 1978. (And others in the Wayside School series.) ISBN-13: 978-0380731480

Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee. Little, Brown, 1990. ISBN-13: 978-0316809061

Wallace, Barbara Brooks. Peppermints in the Parlor. Aladdin, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0689874178

Wallace, Barbara Brooks. The Twin in the Tavern. Atheneum, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0595410675

Critics have said

As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny--the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store--we can't help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere.
Brangien Davis

Imaginative plotting and memorable characters make this novel a winner.
Book Magazine

This is a can't-put-it-down read.

Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students.