Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.
Who Is Louis Sachar?
What were your favorite books in middle school? If you grew up in the '80s, '90s, or early 2000s, some of them might have been written by Louis Sachar. Sachar is an American author who is most well-known for the Sideways Stories from Wayside School series and the novel Holes.
Louis Sachar was born March 20, 1954, in New York. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Tustin, California, where he spent the rest of his childhood. He was a good student, but didn't become interested in reading and writing until high school. Then, he discovered Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger, two writers who continue to influence his work.
After graduation, Sachar attended Antioch College in Ohio, but only for one semester. His father died, and he had to return to California, where he worked selling Fuller brushes door-to-door. He eventually returned to college at the University of California, where he studied economics. Here, Sachar would have an experience that would change his life forever.
One day, Sachar saw a little girl handing out advertisements. A local elementary school needed teacher's aides. Sachar jumped at the opportunity to earn course credits and work with second and third graders at Hillside Elementary School. After graduating college, he went to work at a sweater warehouse in Connecticut, but the students were still on his mind. During the nine months he worked at the warehouse, he wrote stories about the students he'd worked with. Eventually, these stories became Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
Becoming a Writer
Sachar was fired from his job at the warehouse, and he decided to go to law school at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. During his first semester, Sideways Stories from Wayside School was accepted by a publisher. He continued to write stories for children after his graduation from law school in 1980. In 1985, he married his wife Carla. They had one daughter, Sherre, in 1987. Sachar worked as a lawyer until he could support himself and his family with his fiction, which was in 1989. Sachar and his family live in Austin, Texas.
The Sideways School Series
After he stopped working as a lawyer, Sachar returned to his stories about Wayside School. He published two volumes in 1989: Wayside School is Falling Down and Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School. He added a novel in 1994, More Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School, and the last in 1995, Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. The character of Louis in these stories is based on Sachar as a child.
In 1998, Sachar published his most lauded book, Holes. Holes is the story of Stanley Yelnats a pathetic kid with no friends7mdash;and a family curse. In the story, Stanley is sentenced to eighteen months in prison at Camp Green Lake for a crime he did not commit. The story alternates between Stanley's adventures at Camp Green Lake, digging holes each day in the hot sun, and the stories of Stanley's relative Elya Yelnats' journey to America and the notorious outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow.
Holes was an immediate success. Sachar won sixteen awards for Holes, including the 1999 Newbery Medal. This is an award given out by the National Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published that year. Sachar also wrote the screenplay for the 2003 movie Holes, which starred Shia LeBeouf as Stanley Yelnats and Sigourney Weaver as the Warden of Camp Green Lake.
Sachar also wrote Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake in 2003, as a companion novel to Holes. It was released one month before the movie, and made it on to the New York Times bestseller list. In 2006, Sachar published Small Steps, a book about Armpit, one of the other prisoners at Camp Green Lake, and his life after he was released.
Other Books by Sachar
Other books by Sachar include the Marvin Redpost series, which is eight books written between 1992 and 2000. He also wrote Johnny's in the Basement in 1981, Someday Angeline in 1983, Sixth Grade Secrets in 1987, There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom in 1987, The Boy Who Lost His Face in 1989, Dogs Don't Tell Jokes in 1991, Monkey Soup in 1992, and The Cardturner in 2010.
Several things about Sachar's books have come under fire. For example, his characters of Donald, Donny, and Valerie experiment with cigarettes in the book Johnny's in the Basement, and some people think parts of Holes and Small Steps are too scary for the age bracket they are written for.
Louis Sachar is a very prolific American children's author. He was born in New York, but as a child his family moved to California. Sachar graduated from college and law school, but at the same time began writing children's books. He began his full time writing career in 1989. Over the years, he has published twenty-three novels and written the screenplay for the blockbuster movie Holes. Inspired by the grade school students he worked with in college, Sachar also created the series Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar has won various awards for his writing, including the Newberry Medal award in 1999. Sachar now lives in Texas with his family.
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