Friday, September 13, 2013

Our New Novel Study: Holes by Louis Sacher

Because  we enjoyed reading Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, so much we decided we wanted to do another novel study and compare it with Private Peaceful. We also wanted to see if another novel would have some of the same features as Private Peaceful, such as foreshadowing; conflict with self, others, and technology; parallels between  the first and second parts of a novel; and interesting features such as changing between the past and the present.

We started reading Holes by Louis Sacher today.

We discussed if we had ever felt we had been blamed for something we didn't do. Everyone had an experience of this. 

We looked at the cover of the book and decided that the story would have something to do with lizards, the desert or dirt, blue skies, and maybe  some clouds.  Jason wondered if the clouds would be important, and Mrs Vincent said that the clouds would be something to watch out for in the story, and would be symbolic, as the birds were in Private Peaceful, and that it would be a good idea to note when clouds were mentioned. ("Foreshadowing!" commented Cameron.)

We researched some vocabulary:
shrivelled          hover      crammed      stranded   neglected    barren    desolate
stifling          slumped     descendants      vast      gruff      melody       perseverance     

Which word from the list above means:

grumpy      dried up        hunched over       very hot       float above       packed tightly     stickability  children and grandchildren, for example    tune      stuck somewhere      infertile        lonely      huge  forgotten

We looked at images of these nouns:
rattlesnakes    scorpions     yellow-spotted lizard        log cabin      hammock 

On Thursday we read Chapters 1, 2 and 3 (They are short chapters.) 

We discussed the setting: Camp Greenlake - somewhere in Texas, and Stanley's own home, but there's no lake and nothing is green. ("Ironic!" said Brylee - and we were impressed with her.)

We discussed inference, and we inferred that Camp Greenlake was not a good place for people to be because there was no shade and no lake.   There was also a  chance that you could get killed by a yellow-spotted lizard. We also worked out that it must be an awful place because some people preferred to be bitten by a rattle snake or a scorpion to digging a hole on the lake. ("Blighty!" said Jamarl - and we were impressed that he found the first parallel with Private Peaceful.)

We discussed the theme of perseverance and how Stanley's father persevered with his inventions. We also thought that luck could be one of the themes as Stanley's family had a lot of bad luck - even though the mother reminded them of some good luck that happened. 

We noticed that Holes is also like Private Peaceful (PP) because the story changes between the past  and the present, although only the past tense is used.  PP had a recurring motif of the song "Oranges and Lemons". Conor was the first to recognise that Holes has a recurring motif* of a song "If Only".

*a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.
Some of the class have read the story before but they are not allowed to tell anyone what happens. 

We are already enjoying the book and we are only up to page 10.

Vocabulary For Chapter 4: dazed, juvenile, premises, violation, facility,  burlap. holster, buzzard,

Vocabulary for Chapter 5: assigned, shovel, cot, saliva, sanitary,

Vocabulary for Chapter 6: scarcity, prospect, testify, collapse, torment, mere, destiny, coincidence humiliating, auction, schedule, despicable, souvenir

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