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Louis Sachar is the author of many books for children including the Marvin Redpost and Wayside School series and the bestselling prize-winner Holes. Louis lives in Austin, Texas.
This companion to Holes follows a former detainee at Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility (where he was sent after a spilled-popcorn-mishap-turned brawl at a cinema), in his life on the outside. Armpit now works for a landscape company while he finishes up high school. The earnest teen is back on track, in no small part due to the mutually restorative friendship he has forged with Ginny, a 10-year-old neighbor born with cerebral palsy. This bright, perceptive girl has given Armpit a great deal ("For the first time in his life, there was someone who looked up to him, who cared about him") and has "released him from his anger." X-Ray, another Camp Green Lake alum, nearly derails Armpit's new life when he convinces Armpit to buy into a ticket-scalping scheme for a concert by teen rock star Kaira-a scheme that goes horribly awry. In a rather contrived plot twist, Armpit winds up meeting Kaira who then falls for Armpit-and he for her. Even less likely is the novel's final, sensational melodrama (Kaira's evil stepfather and manager futilely tries to murder her and frame Armpit for the crime). Sachar does inject some credible intrigue here (notably surrounding the potential legal consequences of Armpit's and X-Ray's involvement in the ticket scam) and effectively emphasizes the importance of taking "small steps." Unfortunately, although Armpit's steady small steps result in some big strides, this is a disappointingly flat spin-off of Sachar's resonant Newbery winner. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
'Has Sachar's familar ease, intelligence, humour, suspense and humanity.' Sunday Times 'Readers of the first novel will not be disappointed as the story is as compelling as the first... sure to entrance readers.' Bookseller Children's Buyers Guide 'A pacy adventure, which leaves you cheering Armpit all the way to the finish line.' Good Book Guide 'Has a lot to recommend it - funny dialogue, a fast-moving story, some emotive scenes, an interesting central character.' Guardian
Gr 5-8-Now that all the boys at Camp Green Lake have stopped digging Holes (Farrar, 1998), Louis Sachar tells how one of the former inmates is taking Small Steps (Delacorte, 2006) to get his life back on track. In this sequel to Sachar's Newbery Award-winning novel about a correctional facility gone wrong, Armpit, a powerfully built African American is working, going back to school, and trying to avoid the angry outbursts that landed him in juvenile detention. The Texas teen is doing well and he's even befriended his ten-year-old neighbor, Ginny, who has cerebral palsy. Then another former inmate, X-Ray, convinces him to invest his savings in a legal, but less than savory, concert ticket scalping scheme. After a slow start, the two young men make money and Armpit, a.k.a Theodore, invites Ginny to see teen songstress Kaira DeLeon at the concert. But when X-Ray gives him counterfeit tickets and Ginny has a seizure, it looks like Armpit is back in trouble. Fortunately, the young singer invites the pair back stage and starts to fall for Armpit. Everything looks "cool" when Kaira invites him to her San Francisco concerts, but Armpit is about to be framed by the teen star's unscrupulous manager and an embezzling assistant. Armpit shows his courage as the story heats up and moves to its lesson-learned conclusion. Narrator Curtis McClarin is solidly believable as a hip teen, an authoritative adult, and a speech-impaired child. Beneath the story's humorous dialogue and some beyond-your-wildest dreams scenarios, Small Steps acknowledges the realities of ex-inmate life and the value of doing the right thing. A wise choice for all middle school and public libraries.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.