Stanley Yelnats can't hide from his family curse that began with his pig stealing great-great-grandfather. It comes as no surprise to Stanley that he is convicted of a theft he did not commit. When he is forced to choose between jail time or Camp Green Lake, he chooses Camp Green Lake.
Camp Green Lake is no vacation. In fact, Stanley finds there is no lake at camp, only a dried up lake bed. Camp is really a detention center in where the boys are supposed to build character all day by digging holes exactly five foot wide and five foot deep.
The rattlesnake finger painting warden isn't really building character by having the boys dig the holes, but looking for a long lost buried treasure of outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow. It doesn't take Stanley long to realize the warden is using the boys for her sinister purpose. With each shovelful, Stanely tries to uncover the truth.
Louis Sachar's masterpiece is full of dark humor, wisdom, and redemption. The novel is deserving of all of the accolades it has received, especially the greatest of all, the Newbery Award.
The book has a dark side and may be inappropriate for younger children. Recommended age is nine or older. Though written for middle grade, it's appeal will extend to young adult as well.
For parents that like their children to read the book before their children see the movie version of the book, the movie follows the book better than almost any movie version I have seen.