The book I had to read for Lit for Young Adults last week was Holes. It was alright, I didn't enjoy it even half as much as Ender's Game, but that's going to be a tough act to follow. I think it's (Holes) probably written for a younger audience than I expected. It took me a combined total of less than 3 hours to read. This week, I'm reading I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier (author of The Chocolate Wars) for our mystery genre discussion.
Here's the annotated bib I turned in for Holes:
Sachar, Louis. Holes. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf. 1998
Beginning as a story about an unlucky boy who has never fit in, Holes becomes a story about which every child dreams: a quest to find treasure. The protagonist, Stanley (a.k.a. "Caveman") has his fair share of forces working against him: peers who bully him, adult authority figures who misunderstand him, nature, and the myth of a great-great-grandfather whose actions have cursed his family. When Stanley runs away from his problems, he symbolically lands himself atop a mountain where he gains insight to who he is and finally likes himself. With this new confidence, he hatches a plan to find his treasure and confront his problems. Of course, things can only go right for so long before he has to grapple with a whole new set of problems.
While the novel excels at following a very specific formula which sets the protagonist against circumstances that are nearly impossible to overcome, it will not always appeal to all young adult readers. It is very simply written and the character development is not as specific and emotional as would be required to captivate an older group of teens. It will, however, appeal to most middle-school students.