Louis Sachar is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Holes, which won the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Christopher Award, as well as Stanley Yelnats' Survival to Camp Green Lake; Small Steps, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award; and The Cardturner, a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a Parents' Choice Gold Award recipient, and an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book. His books for younger readers include There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, The Boy Who Lost His Face, Dogs Don't Tell Jokes, and the Marvin Redpost series, among many others.
Though Sachar's companion to Holes isn't as intricately crafted as that Newbery winner, McClarin's multi-layered reading helps the author's words shine on this audiobook that improves upon the print reading experience. The accomplished actor brings to his characterizations a sassy energy and verisimilitude that injects Sachar's dialogue and descriptions with some memorable zing. The story picks up with 16-year-old Armpit, one of the kids who served time at juvenile detention center Camp Greenlake with Stanley Yelnats, two years after their release. Armpit has been taking the titular small steps to a respectable life-holding down a landscaping job, finishing school, being a protective best friend to a young neighbor with cerebral palsy. But when X-Ray, a fellow Camp Green Lake detainee, comes up with a risky get-rich-quick ticket-scalping scheme, Armpit temporarily gets lured into taking a few steps backward. A contrived twist of plot has him appropriately righted again, saving the day (and a teen pop star). Listeners will no doubt compare this to its quirkier, more dream-like predecessor, but will be entertained by McClarin's vibrant work on this detour from Green Lake. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8-This sequel to Holes (Farrar, 1998) focuses on Armpit, an African-American former resident of Tent D at Camp Green Lake. It's two years after his release, and the 16-year-old is still digging holes, although now getting paid for it, working for a landscaper in his hometown of Austin, TX. He's trying to turn his life around, knowing that everyone expects the worst of him and that he must take small steps to keep moving forward. When X-Ray, his friend and fellow former detainee at the juvenile detention center, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme involving scalping tickets to a concert by teenage pop star Kaira DeLeon, Armpit fronts X-Ray the money. He takes his best friend and neighbor, Ginny, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy, to the concert and ends up meeting Kaira, getting romantically involved, and finally becoming a hero by saving her life when her stepfather tries to kill her and frame him. Small Steps has a completely different tone than Holes. It lacks the bizarre landscape, the magical realism, the tall-tale quality, and the heavy irony. Yet, there is still much humor, social commentary, and a great deal of poignancy. Armpit's relationship with Ginny, the first person to care for him, look up to him, and give his life meaning, is a compassionate one. Like Holes, Small Steps is a story of redemption, of the triumph of the human spirit, of self-sacrifice, and of doing the right thing. Sachar is a master storyteller who creates memorable characters.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Louis Sachar is magic to the toughest circle of critics:
librarians, children's booksellers, teachers - and, most of all,
"Sachar's touch is as deft as ever and the book is a page-turner."
"Mr. Sachar's gentle but surefire approach nails down challenging issues such as racism, teen romance and drugs."
-Dallas Morning News
"Sachar has a talent for creating realistic relationships between unlikely friends. Although that's a staple device of children's literature, it often works by drawing on cliches. Sachar's characters, though, are never stereotypes, but always vividly alive."
-Los Angeles Times
"His prose is clear and relaxed, and funny in a low-key, observant way."
-New York Times
"Part of what makes Small Steps so believable and appealing is that its characters do have insecurities, and they aren't ashamed to let them show."
"Sachar is a master storyteller who creates memorable characters."
-School Library Journal
"Cleverly wrought...heartwarming, witty and suspenseful."
-Time Out New York Kids
Praise for Louis Sachar's Holes:
"A dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A brilliant achievement."
-School Library Journal
"A smart jigsaw puzzle of a novel."
-The New York Times
"Imaginative plotting and memorable characters make this novel a winner."