Summary and book reviews of Small Steps by Louis Sachar

Small Steps

By Louis Sachar

Small Steps
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2006,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2008,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

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 neighbor. 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.

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.

“...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
TEACHING IDEAS

Pre-Reading Activities
Ask students to write a journal entry about a time when they had to make a tough choice between right and wrong. Have them include the following points: What contributed to their decision? How did their decision affect others? Was the outcome worth it? Encourage them to share their journal entries in class.

Instruct students to read the newspaper for several days and bring in articles where people have been in situations that required them to make a personal choice that could have a life-changing impact on them or others. Share the articles in class, and discuss whether the choices they made were positive or negative.


Introducing the Characters
Armpit

After spending time at Camp Green ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

If you're looking for a book for a 5th grader or older and he/she has not read Holes, we recommend it enthusiastically, especially for boys. If Holes has been read and enjoyed, go out and get Small Steps. Serious fans might also want to get their hands on a copy of Stanley Yelnat's Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake, which Sachar wrote shortly after Holes.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (611 words).

Media Reviews
USA Today

Louis Sachar is magic to the toughest circle of critics: librarians, children's booksellers, teachers - and, most of all, kids.

New York Times

His prose is clear and relaxed, and funny in a low-key, observant way.

Booklist - Jennifer Mattson

Starred Review. This is both less experimental and less streamlined than Holes; Armpit's bond with a girl with cerebral palsy, for instance, often seems too clearly intended to reveal his soft heart. Even so, Holes fans will be thrilled by the tightening of the plot elements to a single, suspenseful point, and they will eagerly follow the sometimes stumbling, sometimes sprinting progress of Sachar's fallible yet heroic protagonist.

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 cliches. Sachar's characters, though, are never stereotypes, but always vividly alive.

School Library Journal

Sachar is a master storyteller who creates memorable characters.

Reader Reviews
Melanie Hackworth

Great read for middle school students
I teach 8th grade language arts, and although it is an easy read, it has captured my students attention from start to finish. I am reading it for the first time as well, and I have to say‚Ķ I live it! Sachar has a great sense of humor, and the story...   Read More

Tim

small steps review
This is my favorite book of all time. I want to read it over and over again. Louis Sachar should write another book about someone else after they get out of camp green lake. It would be really good if Louis Sachar wrote a book about Zero and ...   Read More

dee

No Lie !
Holes was the best book I'd ever read in my whole life! And then when I heard about Small Steps and finally got my hands on it I was pleased. Louis Sachar.. you are great!

Cristal

young reader
I'm only 13 years old and I have read this book may times. I absolutely fell in love with it. The story and plot line is just wonderful.

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Beyond the Book

When asked why, of all the characters from Holes, he chose to revisit Armpit, Louis Sacher (pronounced loo-is sack-er) replies, "I tend to write about underdogs. It seemed to me that life would be tough for an African-American teenager from a low-income family with a criminal record. Especially someone stuck with the name, "Armpit."

He says, "I never talk about a book until it is finished. It took me a year and a half to write Holes, and I never told anyone anything about it during all that time. I do this for a variety of reasons, but ...

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