Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 203–212 | Cite as

Fate and Fortune in a Modern Fairy Tale: Louis Sachar's Holes

  • Pat Pinsent


Louis Sachar's Holes, first published in 1998, is an impressive example of how the themes and motifs of one of the oldest genres, the fairy tale, live on in contemporary children's fiction, and thus provide authors with an alternative to ‘gritty realism' as a means of presenting to young readers the harshest of topics and environments. This article shows how Sachar adapts some of the characteristics of fairy tale, such as magic objects and formulae, stereotypical roles and repeated motifs, within a story set in a desert penal establishment for young offenders. Because of this blend between fantasy and realism, the provision of the novel with a ‘fairy tale ending’ by means of a number of otherwise unbelievable coincidences, does not overtax the reader's credulity, but rather endows the novel with a positive message about the qualities of the human spirit.

fairy tale fantasy and realism transformation fate and fortune coincidences 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pat Pinsent
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Surrey RoehamptonUK

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