July 29th, 2010 by Karen
There are many things in this world that divide us. Some of us are dog lovers while others prefer cats. Some of us crave ice cream while others enjoy sorbet (ahem, Nancy). Some of us are first in line for horror films while others are such fraidy cats that they even have to mute TV commercials for scary movies (okay, fine, I’m in the second camp). But despite all our differences, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: Holes by Louis Sachar is one darn amazing book. And not just because it’s a Newbery Medal winner, it’s just… really, really good.
So for obvious reasons, children’s book lovers everywhere (or at least in the U.S.) were all excited when the companion book, Small Steps, was published years later. I was among those children’s book lovers eagerly anticipating its release. And then… well, it took me four years to get around to reading it. FAIL.
Of course, that means I’m totally behind the times — when it’s kind of my job to be on top of this stuff. (Seriously, Small Steps came out in 2006. That’s before even Harry Potter 7. And the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid hadn’t even been published yet! MASSIVE FAIL by me.)
But that’s not even the worst part. No, the worst part is that I missed out on reading a great book! Because, as we can expect from Louis Sachar, Small Steps is pretty darn good. Although to be honest, it’s not as fantastic as Holes — but then again, very few books are.
Small Steps is the story of Armpit, who was one of Stanley’s fellow inmates at Camp Green Lake. Now that he’s free, Armpit’s just trying to make it through high school and stay out of trouble. But with a friend like X-Ray (also from Camp Green Lake days), you know that’s not gonna happen. It’s not good for Armpit, but it makes for a captivating read! Get ready for: a ticket scalping scheme, a teen pop idol, a criminal investigation, and a sweet new friend.
I do have to warn you, there’s some pretty whacked out crazy stuff that goes down towards the end of the story, so I’d recommend this book for only middle schoolers and up. The plot twists kind of reminded me of Carl Hiaasen’s books for kids: Hoot, Scat, and Flush. (If you need to get your parents on board with you reading Small Steps, show them the Wikipedia plot summary of the book, which gives details on what I’m talking about. But don’t read the re-cap yourself — major spoiler alert!)
In the book, Armpit learns some valuable lessons, and I did too: don’t wait four years to read a book that everyone else says is really awesome, especially if it’s written by the same awesome author of another awesome book that you think is awesome! Please, learn from my mistake.