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Small Steps
Cover of Small Steps
Small Steps
Holes Series, Book 2
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Two years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin, Texas, trying to turn his life around. But it’s hard when you have a record, and everyone expects the worst from...
Two years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin, Texas, trying to turn his life around. But it’s hard when you have a record, and everyone expects the worst from...
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Description-

  • Two years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin, Texas, trying to turn his life around. But it’s hard when you have a record, and everyone expects the worst from you. The only person who believes in him is Ginny, his 10-year old disabled neighbour. Together, they are learning to take small steps. And he seems to be on the right path, until X-Ray, a buddy from Camp Green Lake, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. This leads to a chance encounter with teen pop sensation, Kaira DeLeon, and suddenly his life spins out of control, with only one thing for certain. He’ll never be the same again.
    In his first major novel since Holes, critically acclaimed novelist Louis Sachar uses his signature wit combined with a unique blend of adventure and deeply felt characters to explore issues of race, the nature of celebrity, the invisible connections that determine a person’s life, and what it takes to stay on course. Doing the right thing is never a wrong choice – but a small step in the right direction.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    A rusted Honda Civic drove noisily down the street and parked across from the mayor’s house. Armpit had finished digging his trench and was attaching PVC pipe. The mayor had gone back inside.

    The driver-side door had been bashed in, and it would have cost more to fix than the car was worth. The driver had to work his way over the stick shift and then exit on the passenger side.

    The personalized license plate read: X RAY.

    “Armpit!” X-Ray shouted as he crossed the street. “Armpit!”

    The guys at work didn’t know him by that name, but if he didn’t say something X-Ray would just keep on shouting. Better to answer and shut him up.

    “Hey,” he called back.

    “Man, you’re really sweating,” X-Ray said as he came near.

    “Yeah, well, you’d sweat too if you were digging.”

    “I’ve already dug enough dirt to last one lifetime,” said X-Ray.

    They had met each other at Camp Green Lake.

    “Look, don’t call me Armpit around other people, all right?” Armpit said.

    “But that’s your name, dawg. You should never be ashamed of who you are.”

    X-Ray had the kind of smile that kept you from hating him no matter how annoying he was. He was skinny and wore glasses, which were now covered with clip-on shades.

    He picked up Armpit’s shovel. “Different shape.”

    “Yeah, it’s for digging trenches, not holes.”

    X-Ray studied it awhile. “Seems like it would be harder to dig with. No leverage.” He let it drop. “So you must be making a ton of money.”

    Armpit shrugged. “I’m doing all right.”

    “A ton of money,” X-Ray repeated.

    Armpit felt uncomfortable talking about money with X-Ray.

    “So really, how much you got saved up so far?”

    “I don’t know. Not that much.”

    He knew exactly how much he had. Eight hundred and fifty-seven dollars. He hoped to break a thousand with his next paycheck.

    “Got to be at least a thousand,” said X-Ray. “You’ve been working for three months.”

    “Just part-time.”

    Besides working, Armpit was also taking two classes in summer school. He had to make up for all the schooling he’d missed while at Green Lake.

    “And they take out for taxes and stuff, so really I don’t take home all that much.”

    “Eight hundred?”

    “I don’t know, maybe.”

    “The reason I’m asking,” X-Ray said, “the reason I’m asking is I got a business proposition for you. How would you like to double your money in less than two weeks?”

    Armpit smiled as he shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

    “I just need six hundred dollars. Double your money, guaranteed. And I won’t be taking out any taxes.”

    “Look, things are going all right for me right now, and I just want to keep it all cool.”

    “Don’t you even want to hear me out?”

    “Not really.”

    “It’s not against the law,” X-Ray assured him. “I checked.”

    “Yeah, you didn’t think selling little bags of parsley for fifty dollars an ounce was against the law either.”

    “Hey, it’s not my fault what people think they’re buying. How is that my fault? Am I supposed to be a mind reader?”

    X-Ray had been sent to Camp Green Lake for selling...

About the Author-

  • Louis Sachar is the award-winning and bestselling author of Holes (now a major motion picture), as well as Stanley Yelnats’ Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake, the Marvin Redpost series, There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes, among many other stellar books.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 14, 2005
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Curtis McClarin takes no small steps in his energetic reading of Sachar's sequel of sorts to HOLES (1998). He gives a distinctly African-American voice to this story of ticket scalping, teenage love, crime, and redemption. Two years after their release from a juvenile detention camp, Armpit and X-Ray meet up to join in a ticket-scalping venture. Armpit has no idea that he's taking the first steps on an adventure that will lead him into the worlds of entertainment, intrigue, romance, and heartbreak and will put his own life at risk to foil a plot to murder a teenage diva, Kaira DeLeon. McClarin gives honest, believable voices to Armpit, Kaira, and the rest of the characters. In particular, he gives a touching portrayal of Armpit's neighbor Ginny, a 10-year-old white girl with cerebral palsy. S.E.S. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 27, 2006
    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.

  • Detroit Free-Press "Sachar's touch is as deft as ever and the book is a page-turner."
  • USA Today "Louis Sachar is magic to the toughest circle of critics: librarians, children's booksellers, teachers--and, most of all, kids."
  • Dallas Morning News "Mr. Sachar's gentle but surefire approach nails down challenging issues such as racism, teen romance and drugs."
  • BookPage "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."
  • School Library Journal "Sachar is a master storyteller who creates memorable characters."
  • Time Out New York Kids "Cleverly wrought...heartwarming, witty and suspenseful."
  • Los Angeles Times "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 clichés. Sachar's characters, though, are never stereotypes, but always vividly alive."
  • New York Times "His prose is clear and relaxed, and funny in a low-key, observant way."

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