2001 Holes

2001 Winner - Holes by Louis Sachar

Imagine that you are Stanley Yelnatz and every evening when you were growing up you heard your father sing this lullaby:

If only, if only the woodpecker cries
The bark on the trees was as soft as the skies
And the wolf howls below, so lonely, so lonely,
If only, if only….

[Change your stance: You are now Stanley Yelnatz]

If only! If only those sneakers hadn'ta fallen outta da sky! If only I'dda left ‘em alone. Howsz' I supposta know they were stolen? Do I look like the kind of person who'd steal from a charity auction?

[Muttered sotto voce] Don't answer that!

If only when the judge said I hadda choice between Juvenile Detention and Camp Greenlake, I hadn'ta chosen the camp! Howsz' I supposta know what it really was? I'd never been to summer camp? How bad could it be?

Bad. Real bad. I'm in boot camp with a lot of serious criminals. Murderers maybe! Out in the middle of the desert (Lake, hah!) with poisonous snake and lizards and scorpions. And y'know what they make us do? You're never gonna get this: They make us dig holes. Holes! Everyday you gotta dig a hole 5 feet deep and 5 feet wide all around. You don't get to eat or sleep or nothin' until you dig that stupid hole.

And it's it's all the fault of my no-good, rotten, pig-stealing great-grandfather. If he'd of kept his promise, then that old Gypsy lady would never've cursed us. Uh uh. And I wouldn't have such lousy luck. It's bad here. Crazy. I don't think I'm gonna survive this…

[Return to being “the Narrator”] Oh yeah, Stanley Yelnatz's life is going to get crazier than he knows. He thinks they're just making the prisoners dig holes to hurt them, maybe to break their spirit. But the holes are really linked to a secret and a murder and a curse. And Stanley? Why he's right, shall we say, dead in the center of it all. Oh yeah, Stanley is doomed!

By Kirsten Edwards, King County Library System


Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen

This summer, the world will go up in flames. Or so the followers of Reverend Raymond Beelson believe. Only the faithful few, hiding out in a mountain camp will escape Armageddon. Two teenagers, Jed and Marina, are dragged to the cult's mountain top retreat by their families. Marina's family have been believers for years and she's worried and upset that they're leaving her dad behind to fry. Jed thinks it's a crock. That it's just his flaky dad's latest craze that will wear off when this so-called Armageddon fizzles out. The FBI agent hidden in the camp is afraid that the cult will turn violent. Both Jed and Marina never expected to find love that strange summer.

One way or another, for Jed and Marina, their world will go up in flames.

By Kirsten Edwards, King County Library System


Haunted Sister by Lael Littke

Have any of you ever heard about something called a "near death experience"? [Let your audience respond. If no one volunteers, describe it briefly]. Basically, whether you're a materialist, and think that it's your brain trying to make sense of getting briefly shut down or a spiritualist who thinks it's a clue to life after death, people do "remember" some strange stuff when they're technically "dead" and resuscitated.

Janine has had a near-death experience. She's hovering above the body of a teenage girl on an operating table, listening to the worried voices of the doctors and thinking that this poor kid is really messed up. Then she remembers the accident and realizes that the body below is her.

She sees a white light that pulls her toward it, hurrying her toward a beautiful city. She sees people she knows have died; that kid in her class from middle school, her grandpa and her long-dead twin-sister. In an instant she's beside her beloved grandfather. He's telling Janine that it's not her time, that she has to go back. To her surprise her dead twin sister snarls at her. "It's your fault I'm here!"

The next thing Janine knows she's waking up. Her head hurts. Her whole body hurts. She's a hospital bed, bandaged, splinted and catheter-ed. As she moans Janine's mom reaches down to hug her. Her mom is sobbing, "My baby is alive!"

And a voice in Janine's head says, "Wow. That feels really good. I've missed our mom." Janine is confused. What's wrong with me? She thinks. The voice in her head doesn't go away.

 [Sweetly] "Don't you remember me, Janine? It's me. Lenore. Your twin sister. [Menacingly] The one you killed. "I'm back. I want my share of living. This is our body now and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

Booktalk by an Evergreen Committee member


The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin

David Yaffe killed his girlfriend, Emily. At the trial the judge and jury believed him (or at least David's lawyer) when he said it was an accident. So David was acquitted and life goes on, right?

Well, imagine you'd done what David had. That your girlfriend or boyfriend (like Emily) was a popular person; liked. And that everybody at [Name of the school at which you're booktalking] believed that the only reason you were acquitted was your Dad's high-priced lawyer. Imagine going back to [Name of the school].
So David's family sends him out of state to his aunt and uncle to finish his senior year at a school where nobody knows him or what he's done. But going to live with his aunt and uncle is like getting out of the frying pan and into the fire. These aren't the most stable nuts on the family tree. David's aunt and uncle haven't spoken to each other in over a year, since their eldest girl, Kathy, committed suicide.

I mean that literally. The only way they communicate is through their 10-year-old daughter, Lily. If you think this hasn't messed with Lily's head, guess again. The day after David arrives he comes across Lily going through his belongings. He asks her nicely to stop but she ignores him. David tries to get her to leave. Lily waits until just before David is afraid he's gong to have to throw her out, before getting up slowly. 

[The following is adapted from pages 16 - 17 of the book.]
As if casually, Lily asks, "So David, did you like how it felt, when Emily went down?"
All the air left the room. Lily's eyes sucked at him greedily. "Did it feel good? Powerful? Were you glad--even for just a minute?"
David had words somewhere inside him, but he couldn't get them out. He tried to tell himself; C'mon she's just a kid, just a little girl. It didn't work. He and Greg and Emily had been "just kids" that day. Just because you were under 18 didn't make you innocent. Or harmless.
"Get out!" [Growled loudly - point toward the "door".]
Lily just smirked as she left his room, her head held high.

This family is seriously messed up and Kathy's suicide may not be what it seems. David's fresh start is beginning to look like the bad old days as he wonders if murder runs in the family.

Adapted from a book review by Nancy Henkel, King County Library System


The Maze by Will Hobbs

"Your name's on the cigarettes". Crazy Kenny, the kid who eats glass, who's so messed up everyone leaves him alone, whispers this to Rick Walker at lunch.
That's torn it. Rick's life is over. If the corrupt guards at the detention center don't like someone, they offer a carton of cigarettes to any inmate willing beat that person up. Now it's Rick. He's still got months to go on his sentence. He'll never manage to survive. He's got to get away. But this jail was only meant to be a detour. A tough judge trying to get a Rick to sort himself out after Rick was caught throwing rocks at a stop sign. Now it's maze. If he busts out of jail, he's in serious trouble. He'll be a fugitive. On the run. No chance to start over. But if he's stays, he'll die.

Rick busts out and stows away in a truck stopped at a nearby gas station. When the truck stops, Rick finds himself in the middle of nowhere. A real maze of canyons and red rock spires in Utah. Lon Perigrino, a wildlife biologist is there studying (and trying to save) the endangered giant condor. After a rocky start (Rick tries to steal his truck!), Lon takes Rick in. As Rick begins to help Lon in his work, he discovers a powerful identification with the endangered birds. For a little while, like them, he feels free and safe in the wild canyons.

But what neither knows is that Lon's condors are in the way of powerful criminal interests. Killing off an endangered species and murdering a nutty biologist isn't going to bother them at all. It's another dead end in the maze that Rick's life has become. To save Lou, to save the condors, he'll have to sacrifice his freedom, and maybe his life.

By Kirsten Edwards, King County Library System


Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer

[Ask the audience what they think they need for a great summer. Wait for responses. Then continue:]

Some of these things are in this book. Jenna wishes she could have a summer with a driver's license money and a car. Jenna actually has her license. She turned 16, six months ago. She's also been saving money all year from her after-school job at a Gladstone Shoe Store. She can sell almost anything to anybody, especially shoes, so she's not doing badly in the money department. Jenna just doesn't quite have the car – yet! Her big plan is to save enough money to buy a little red car with a sun roof and bucket seats, and then explore all of Illinois and Wisconsin and who knows what else.

Then one day Jenna gets an unusual phone call. It's the president of the Gladstone Shoe Company. She wants to hire Jenna to be her driver for the summer and she's willing to pay very well. She's willing to hand over the keys to her enormous white Cadillac right away.

But Jenna's not too sure she's ready to take them. Sure, it will mean a chance to get away from her family (especially her drunk Dad) for the summer. It will mean freedom, the open road, a chance to explore, and lots and lots of money. But does Jenna really want to spend all summer with a little old lady instead of her best friend? Jenna's best friend warns her, “Jenna, don't be stupid! If you do this you'll be bored to death!”. On the other hand, there is all that money. Jenna will be getting paid enough to definitely buy that sweet car before she starts school in September. It's a tough decision…

Would you go?

By Rochelle Brown, King County Library System


Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen

Charley Goddard, age 15, knew one thing, for sure. There was going to be a shootin' war and if a man didn't step lively, he'd miss it!

When young men go away to war, most of them are aware that they might be killed in action. What they rarely imagine is that they might survive. But changed.

In the Vietnam War, when young men had people trying to kill them, saw their close friends and comrades dying around them and had to kill, and kill again, they sometimes came back, wounded psychologically as well as physically. People called this phenomenon, "post traumatic stress syndrome". During World War II when men and boys were torn apart in bloody carnage on the beaches of Normandy, they said the survivors had "Battle fatigue". In World War I, as young men coughed their lungs out with poison gas and were bombed senseless in the trenches, they called it "Shell shock".

In the civil war, they said you had a soldier's heart.

Charley Goddard, age 15, runs away to fight in the Civil War. He earns his soldiers heart.

Based on a real person, this is Soldier's Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers by Gary Paulsen.


Whirligig - by Paul Fleischman

"We can never know all the consequence of our actions." Every action, whether selfish or selfless touches so many others in unimaginable ways.

At different ends of the country four very different people find inspiration and hope when they encounter four separate magical wooden toys; whirligigs. They're a Maine teenager stumbling into womanhood, a distraught Miami street sweeper, an Asian-American girl about to rebel and a San Diego teenager helping her grandmother search for her roots.

But how would they feel if they knew who had built the whirligigs? You see, the builder is Brent Bishop, a sixteen-year-old boy trying desperately to atone for a thoughtless act that had killed an innocent girl. You'll find "Lea Zamora" on each of his whirligigs.

Certainly Brent can never bring back Lea's life. But can his whirligigs do something to spread her spirit? Those who encounter them will never know who built the whirling wooden toys, and Brent will never know who they touched. Can anything good ever come out of a senseless tragedy? You decide!

Read Whirligig. Discover how every action, whether selfish or selfless touches so many others in ways we can never understand.

Booktalk by an Evergreen Committee member


Within Reach - My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin

[Ask the audience what they were doing when they were 14. If it's a younger group, ask them what they think they'll be doing. Wait for the answers. Volunteer your own if the audience isn't very responsive. Then ask what they were doing (or will be doing) at 15, and at 16. Then show them one of the pictures in the book of Mark Pfetzer.]

See this guy? His name is Mark Pfetzer. He's a real guy. A few years ago, when he was 14 years old, he was the youngest person ever to climb to the top of Mount Pisco, Peru. When he was 15 he climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier and he was the youngest person to climb to the summit of Ama Dablam, Nepal. When he was 16, he decided to take on Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. It nearly killed him.

How does an ordinary kid (He's not rich or famous and neither are his parents) get to do such extraordinary things? How does he get out of school to climb the highest mountains all over the world? It's all here. Within Reach.

By Kim Lafferty, King County Library System


The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence

It's been said that, during the 1800s, quaint little seaside villages in Cornwall were sometimes home to people who rejoiced in the storms. People who got down on their knees and prayed to God for the driving rain and the crashing waves. "Good" townspeople who would sit on the cliffs and wait. The would wait for the ships struggling through the storms, searching for a safe harbor. Tall ships like this one [Show book cover]. When a ship was spotted, they would raise their lamps, light their fires and provide beacons that led these ships onto treacherous rocks and certain destruction. All for the chance of finding and keeping the treasures that washed ashore from the wreck.

The Isle of Sky was such a ship. Lost in a storm, she gratefully followed the lights that suddenly appeared in the black night. When she hit the rocks called The Tombstones, John Spencer, who had been travelling on board with his father for the first time, knew he would die at sea. But he made it to shore. Then, when he awoke on the beach and witnessed one of his shipmates who had also made it alive to shore, being drowned by the local villagers, John was sure he'd be killed, too. But when the whole bloodthirsty mob chased him through the countryside to a broken down block house where a legless man told him that his father was still alive, too, John discovered the will to live. The will to find his father. The will to survive this quaint little seaside town that thrived on death, destruction and the determination that there would be no survivors.

Read the Wreckers, a nasty but true part of history, and a well-told adventure by Iain Lawrence.

Booktalk by an Evergreen Committee member
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