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August 11, 2008


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Author: Louis Sacher       

Page Length: 233

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY:  Stanley Yelnats is caught with some stolen tennis shoes of Clyde Livingston, a famous professional basketball player.  Rather than being sent to jail, he is sent to Camp Green Lake.  The trouble with Camp Green Lake is there is no lake and nothing is green.  A female warden who has rattlesnake venom in her fingernail polish runs the camp.  Mr. Pedanski, the counselor, otherwise known as “mom works at the camp.  Also, Mr. Sir, who has quit drinking and chews mainly on sunflower seeds, supervises the camp.

Stanley is put into a group of boys who work, sleep, and eat together.  They go by nicknames such as Armpit, Zigzag, Squid, Barfbag, Zero, and X-Ray.  Stanley acquires the name of Caveman after a few words are traded with another boy in the camp. He learns quickly there is a hierarchy to follow among the group.

Each day the boys are sent to the dried up lake to dig holes 5’wide, 5’ long, and 5’ deep.  The warden says this is to “build character” but is doesn’t take Stanley long to realize the warden is looking for something, something very valuable to her.

As the story develops there are references made to Kate Barlow, a black man named Sam, and Stanley’s great-great-great grandfather, Elya Yelnats.  All of these people lived about 100 years earlier when the lake was full and the surroundings were green.

After discovering a shiny tube with the initials KB engraved on the cover, Stanley wonders if there is any relationship between Kate Barlow and the treasure that consumes the warden.

REVIEW:  This book is a delightful read for anyone above fifth grade.  Many of my senior students had read the book as eighth graders and convinced me to let them read it again as seniors.  It is humorous, develops the characters very well, and stimulates good class room discussions.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Character, Setting, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast, Inference and Predictions

RELATED BOOKS:  Small Steps, Stanley Yelnats Guide to Camp Green Lake



REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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