What are your first impressions of the novel? Does the front cover attract you and make you want to read the book or does it put you off? Why?

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by Louis Sachar


The cover

Without reading any of the novel, or even the blurb, try to guess what the story is, using only

the title and book cover to help you.

What are your first impressions of the novel?




The setting

Read the first page of the novel.

Sachar gives his novel a very harsh setting. How has he managed to do this?

Make a list of all the

words or phrases which make Camp Green Lake sound hostile.

The word hostile



1. Why are openings important in stories?

2. Has Sachar managed to create an engaging opening to Holes?

3. Now that you know a little more about the setting, can you guess what the main themes of this novel will be? 4. What questions are raised in these chapters which you

are interested in finding the answers to?


What do you think the characters look like?

Character profiles

Draw a picture of two characters from the book and label them to show why you have decided to draw them in the way you have. Here is an example to help you think about it.

Sunburned due to working in the heat all day

Friendly face to show he is kind


A sub-plot is the part of a story which is told alongside the main plot, but is different from it in some way. Often the significance of a sub-plot is not revealed until the end of a story. In Holes, there is a sub-plot which runs parallel to the main plot set at Camp Green Lake.

The sub-plot

Madame Ze



pig stream


What is the sub-plot of Holes? Who are the main


Read Chapters 7–9 which describe Stanley’s first full day at the camp.

Stanley’s diary

Can you explain Stanley’s letter to his mother? Why does he lie to her? Imagine that as well as writing home to his mother, Stanley also keeps a diary in which he is completely

truthful about his life at the camp. How would it differ to his letters home?



Read Chapters 10 and 11 and then complete the questions below using full sentences and giving reasons for your

answers wherever possible. Chapter 10

1. How can you tell that Stanley is tired?

2. Why does Stanley show the fossil to Mr. Pendanski? 3. How can you tell that Mr. Pendanski is not interested in

the fossil? Chapter 11

4. Why does Stanley agree to give anything he finds in the future to X-Ray?



Can you guess why this object might be more ‘interesting’ to the Warden than the fossil which Stanley also found?


In Chapter 14, we meet the Warden:

The Warden

A tall woman with red hair stepped out of the passenger side. She looked even taller than she was, since Stanley was down in his hole. She wore a black cowboy hat and black cowboy boots which were studded with turquoise stones. The sleeves on her shirt were rolled up, and her arms were covered with freckles, as was her face. She walked straight up to X-Ray.

“This where you found it?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Your good work will be rewarded.” She turned to Pendanski. “…I want you to fill everyone’s canteen.”

I just filled them a little while ago,” said Mr. Pendanski. The Warden stared hard at him. “Excuse me,” she said. Her


This description does not say the warden is a bad person. However, how has the writer hinted at a darker, or more sinister side to her?


In Chapter 18, Zero asks Stanley to teach him to read but Stanley refuses. Stanley seems to be a kind kid, so why doesn’t he want to help Zero?

Reading and writing

What kinds of things do people who cannot read or write miss out on?


1. The love story between Katherine and Sam is important in the novel. Can you guess why?

2. When do Sam and Katherine fall in love and how do they manage to see each other regularly?

3. Why do the people of Green Lake disapprove of the relationship between Sam and Kate?

4. What do they do as a consequence of their hate? 5. Who is the main instigator of the trouble?

6. Can you work out why Camp Green Lake becomes dry and barren?




Part 2 of Holes begins with these words:

There was a change in the weather. For the worse. The air became humid. Stanley was drenched in sweat... It was almost as if the temperature had gotten so hot that the air itself was sweating. A loud boom of thunder echoed across the empty lake. A storm was way off to the west, beyond the mountains. Stanley could count more than thirty seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. That was how far away the storm was. Sound travels a great

distance across a barren wasteland.

© Louis Sachar 1998 1. What atmosphere is created here?

2. How can you tell that something important is about to happen? What do you think it is?


1. How does the argument start between Stanley and Zigzag?

2. Why does Mr Pendanski encourage the fight?

3. How can you tell that Zero and Stanley have developed a bond?

4. How does the Warden try to humiliate Zero? 5. Why do you think Zero runs away?

6. Why do none of the adults try to stop Zero from escaping?

Conflict – comprehension


Stanley’s diary

When Zero runs away, Stanley is left alone and another

boy, Twitch, arrives in Zero’s place. Finally, Stanley decides to leave too.

Imagine that you are Stanley. Write a diary entry in which you are completely truthful about

what has happened at camp and why you decided to run away.

Think especially about how Stanley would feel about the Warden’s


A food company has decided to produce bottles of

Sploosh! Imagine that you are part of the marketing team.


Your task is to design the label for the bottle of

Sploosh to encourage shoppers to buy it. Think


Treasure maps

Draw a detailed treasure map of Camp Green Lake and the surrounding area.

Once you have done this, write down an important thing which happened at each location.


1. What was the curse on Stanley’s family?

2. Why were Stanley Yelnats’ family cursed in the first place? 3. How was the curse lifted?

4. How did the Warden know there was treasure buried at Camp Green Lake?

5. Why was Stanley’s name written on the buried treasure?


1. How can you tell that Stanley and Zero are friends? 2. In what ways do the Warden and Mr. Sir reveal

themselves as villains in Part Two?

3. In what ways do Stanley and Zero undergo a change in their lives once they have left Camp Green Lake?



– evaluation

What kinds of qualities make a character a hero or heroine?

Make a list.

Which of these qualities does Stanley possess?

Write a short article entitled: