I don’t know about you, but I often pick up a book someone has recommended, read a few paragraphs, and then put it down again forever. Holes, by Louis Sachar, was one of those books for me. Yes, it was supposed to be good, but when I opened it, I found a story about a fat boy named Stanley at a camp for delinquents in Texas. None of those things appealed to me and, having spent several years of my youth in an unpleasantly hot place, I was not anxious to relive that.
Over the years since Holes first came out, though, so many people told me it was a classic that I had to give it another chance. And of course I was hooked! It’s a wonderful story about friendship and loyalty and redemption, and very satisfyingly plotted as well.
The dangerous “yellow-spotted lizards,” which can kill you with one bite of their black teeth, feature heavily in the story. In my copy-editor mode, I went looking to see if they were real. Sure enough, I discovered a Wikipedia article about Lepidophyma flavimaculatum, the yellow-spotted tropical night lizard that ranges “from central Mexico to Texas” and does, in fact, have black teeth and a white tongue, just as Holes describes it. (There were lots of other Holes fans looking for the same information.) However, although its bite is “painful,” it wouldn’t kill you.
After reading a story I like, I often find myself going to the internet to find out more– do you?