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Small Steps

Louis Sachar

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Published : 2007

Copyright : Louis Sachar 2006

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7475-8345-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7475-8345-5

Publisher's Write-Up

Upon returning to Austin, Armpit set five goals for himself. Five small steps.

1. Graduate High School.
2. Get a job.
3. Save his money.
4. Avoid situations that might turn violent. And...
5. Lose the name Armpit.

In this wonderful, funny and deeply satisfying novel by master storyteller Louis Sachar, Armpit finds all his small steps becoming much bigger than he had anticipated. When he gets mixed up with his old friend X-Ray in a ticket scam, things look set to unravel. But this is only the beginning of Armpit's troubles in this brilliant, fast-paced adventure story by the author of the bestselling Holes.

Armpit and X-Ray are living in Austin, Texas. It is three years since they left the confines of Camp Green Lake Detention Centre and Armpit is taking small steps to turn his life around. He is working for a landscape gardener because he is good at digging holes, he is going to school and he is enjoying his first proper romance, but is he going to be able to stay out of trouble when there is so much building up against him? In this exciting novel, Armpit is joined by many vibrant new characters, and is learning what it takes to stay on course, and that doing the right thing is never the wrong choice.

'Has a lot to recommend it - funny dialogue, a fast-moving story, some emotive scenes, an interesting central character.'


'Readers of the first novel will not be disappointed as the story is as compelling as the first... sure to entrance readers.'

Bookseller Children's Buyers Guide

'Has Sachar's familar ease, intelligence, humour, suspense and humanity.'

Sunday Times
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (310817) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 9/10

Louis Sachar’s Small Steps begins with Armpit holding a shovel, however this time he is getting paid to do so.

Employed by Raincreek Irrigation and Landscaping he was in the process of digging a channel along the side yard of a dwelling belonging to the mayor of Austin. Her name is a little out of the ordinary; Cherry Lane.

A follow up to Holes; Small Steps focus centres on teenager Armpit Theodore Johnson, an African-American previous inhabitant of Tent D at Camp Green Lake. Now that he is home again, is finishing high school, and has a job doing landscape work after school the youngster feels he will be able to make positive changes to turn his life around.

Small Steps takes place subsequent to Armpit’s release from the confinement centre, he was fourteen when he went to Camp Green Lake and now the 16-year-old is employed by a landscaper in his hometown of Austin, TX where he is doing his best to advance his life. Armpit knows he must continue taking small steps toward redeeming his life and remaining on the straight and narrow path to success.

The most difficult part of his circumstances may be the realization that everyone, including his own parents, now assumes the worst of him. Armpit recognizes that he caused himself to be sent to the juvenile detention centre. However, he is fully dedicated to starting afresh, which does not keep him from being opposed with his parents, making some really poor choices and being absolutely foolish now and then. That may be the foulest of what is going on and will continue going on in his life.

To be his own worst enemy is frequently the misery of many younger and often even some older, supposedly mature, persons.

To his enormous irritation following his homecoming from Camp Green Lake, Armpits’ parents brought home a drug testing kit.

His father’s refrain is now –I want a sample.

Armpit has yet to cause is parents to recognize that the cause for his being sent to the detention centre had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

Armpit’s chum, X-Ray, also a prior detainee at the youth detention centre, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. X-Ray has a strategy for scalping tickets for a teenage pop star Kaira DeLeon concert.

X-Ray has a plan, however he has no money, so if Armpit will put up the cash they both can expect to make lots of money.

Aiding X-Ray in his wacky creativity, Armpit rapidly finds himself intertwined in a sequence of activities that end with his not only making friends with, but dating Kaira DeLeon. Armpit has been toiling diligently to continue those necessary small steps toward the life he is struggling to shape for himself. Now, after funding X-Ray in his foolish plan, Armpit once more realizes himself in risk of running afoul of the law.

Kaira, may just be the supreme pop star alive. To his consternation Armpit apprehends that by growing close to her, he is facing difficulty in putting his past behind him. Adding to the problem; Jerome Paisley, Kaira’s corrupt agent and business manager plans to use Armpit's legal record to his benefit. If he succeeds, Armpit may be headed for a grave predicament.

Kaira, a seventeen-year-old African American is becoming an authentic teen idol. Kaira has been receiving letters asserting her beauty, flattering her singing all the while declaring that the writer plans to kill her.

Found in the words and paragraphs of Small Steps novelist Sachar continues his engaging writing development jam-packed with jocularity, social commentary, pathos and confidence. Armpit's patient understanding with his ten-year-old neighbour Ginny who battles Cerebral Palsy is occupied with serenity and empathy. She is conceivably the first person to really look up to him, to truly have fondness for him and to offer connotation to his reality.

Small Steps is a stirring anecdote of regaining, doing the right thing, self-sacrifice, of the triumph of the human spirit. As always Writer Sachar is an authoritative reporter who produces memorable, resounding wholly human characters complete with all the peculiarity, quirks and oddities as are we all.

As we have come to suppose from this author; he will not shy from sensitive subjects. Armpit continues having to face unemotional and not so noticeable racism. He recognizes there are times when he is viewed by a diversity of people grounded solely on his physical appearance, his racial background. Armpit acknowledges that there are some episodes that he faces that would likely not occur, were he not black. He does not dwell upon it, but realizes it.

On the pages of Small Steps author Sacher once more confronts events and circumstances designed to draw young readers into the narrative. Characters are fleshed so readers can recognize with them instantly. Qualms, uncertainties, absolute blunders are all offered in a style that young readers can identify, concede and converse with thoughtful understanding as they read.

Sacher’s prose vocabulary is within the possibility of target readers. Small Steps is certain to pique interest of the target audience of middle grade and high school readers. Sachar’s book is a good one for the school, public and personal library as well as for the counsellor’s shelf of books for youngsters to borrow. While the tale is presented as fiction the behaviours and situations the teens in the narrative exhibit are not.

Happy to recommend for target audience of youngsters 11-16, parents, teachers, counsellors, and gift giving to any and all of these.
Molly Martin ( 2017)

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