Louis Sachar

233 pages, published 1998

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! Charged and convicted for the theft of a famous baseballer’s sneakers, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a boys juvenile detention centre in the middle of a huge, dried-up lake bed. Forced to spend each day out in the blazing sun digging a hole both as wide and deep as the shovel he’s issued, Stanley makes friends - and enemies - amongst the fellow boys and the workers in charge. Coupled with the interlaying story of the notorious bandit ‘Kissing Kate’, Stanley can’t help but feel that there is more going on to their detention than the boys are being led to believe.

An undemanding but enjoyable read, one can’t help but sympathise with poor Stanley, whose only crime is the possession of extremely bad luck. 3.5/5

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