Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gripping the pages

If you read my sidebar updates, you know that I was reading Louis Sachar’s Holes to the children. I had read it to myself a year or two ago, but I didn’t consider reading it to the children because I thought it would be over their heads. But then a friend gave it to us for a Christmas present, causing me to reconsider. My brother teaches the book in his middle school English classes, so I called him up to get his opinion on the matter. He thought it over for a minute and then pronounced it a good fit. We had our next read-aloud.

Once I started reading the book, we couldn’t stop. Or maybe I should say I could not stop. I didn’t even give the kids a chance to beg me to read just one more chapter—I simply plowed right through, ignoring the fact that there even were chapters. Needless to say, the kids were delighted; they found it hilarious that I couldn’t stop. We read the book in just a few days, reading some nights upwards of one-and-a-half hours.

Holes introduced the children to a new genre of literature. The story isn’t your classic straightforward story, such as Ramona Quimby, Heidi, and Tom Sawyer. It’s a mixture of fairy-tale and real life, drama and mystery. I could practically see the wheels turning in their heads as they struggled to fill in the holes (the book could not be more appropriately titled).

I found myself gripping the book extra tight during the scary parts and sometimes pausing to silently read ahead because I was too darn impatient. Other times the story line was moving so fast that I had to pause to give myself a chance to catch my breath. At one point Miss Becca Boo had to get up from the sofa and go stand in the doorway to put some distance between herself and the story—it was just too intense for her. However, despite the scare-factor, she adored the book, carting it around with her and showing it to anyone who walked into our house.

We finished the book about a week ago. I was sorely bummed; what a letdown. After being on that high, I didn’t think there could possibly be anything out there that would be half as interesting to read, so we didn’t read anything—for a whole week. A couple days ago I forced myself to go dig out a book, any book, because we were missing our story time. The kids and I settled on Miss Hickory, which is a respectable book and one that the children enjoy. Even so, it leaves me feeling rather empty and unsatisfied. It’s just not Holes.

14 comments:

  1. After Jim read that book to Kenton. He became obsessed with digging holes. His greatest desire was to dig a hole so deep that he couldn't see out. Finally we relented and allowed him to dig one at a level spot down by the creek. I'm thinking it was about 4-5 feet wide and maybe that deep too. It was quite impressive. To this day, about 10 years later, he loves to dig.

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  2. I am going to guess that Miss Becca Boo went to stand in the doorway when you got to the part where the warden mixes snake venom with her nail polish and threatens to scratch Stanley. Am I right?

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  3. We've not read Holes. I have it but we haven't read it. As for Miss Hickory, Put it down! Put it down! A dreary book at best. I tried to like it, read all the way through with the kids thinking, "Surely this will get better...go somewhere...do SOMETHING." Nope. A complete waste of time. In my opinion. Hmm. Seems you've touched on a nerve here.

    Kate

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  4. Dr. P, You are wrong. Sorry. She fled the room when we got to the part when the lizards were crawling all over Zero and Stanley and they had to hold...very...still. Ooo, it still gives me shivers just to think about it!

    Kate, I'm sensing some strong feelings...

    Zoe, Do you love holes, or do you love Holes? I'd be intrigued if you just loved holes.

    -JJ

    -JJ

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  5. Kirk just finished reading aloud "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler", a quirky, insightful, funny story. The runaway adventures of 12-year-old Claudia and her 9-year-old brother Jamie, set in 1967 New York City. It was recommended to us by Mary Jo, at the library, and now I commend it to you. (Kirk thinks your kids are too young for it, but I think you would like it.)

    K

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  6. I loved this book. Couldn't put it down. I have to find a copy to read to the kids when we are done with The Penderwick Sisters. All of the kids loved Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink, and Little Britches, by Ralph Moody.
    -sem

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  7. I love Holes. Sorry you can't be intrigued.

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  8. tiny-little brotherJanuary 28, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    Hey, no need to weep and mourn! There is an even better book that would make great entertainment for the whole family: Ender's Game. I read this book in one sitting several years ago, from 6pm to 3am. Everyone I know who's read ranks it near the top of their book list.

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  9. Tiny-little brother, Would it traumatize my children's tender little souls?

    -JJ

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  10. Miss Hickory is a wonderful story. Today I read half of it to Gavin. He didn't want me to stop.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll hold off on Holes for a few years. That one would give him nightmares for a week.
    -Aunt V

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  11. Just for the record...

    We finished Miss Hickory. I found it rather enchanting, and the kids loved it. An imaginitive read, though definitely not the page turner like Holes.

    -JJ

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  12. I loved "Holes". As JJ says it's not just for kiddies, adults love it just as much. Get the movie if you haven't seen it. It captures the mood of the book perfectly. Plus you'll see a landscape stretching to the horizon, full of holes. (I wonder how they did that. The movie was made in 2003. Was there CGI available then?) No wonder your son wanted to start digging. Think I'll get my shovel and start digging, too.

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