This page is a short summary of the whole story - and will contain spoilers, so do not read this unless you have read the book!

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Stanley Yelnats is an unlucky boy, in fact his family is unlucky. They always had a history of bad luck, so Stanley isn't too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a Juvenile Correctional Facility.
The criminals(bad boys) were made to dig holes which were five feet deep and five feet wide. They would have to dig one hole everyday. The criminals are not really known as criminals but are called campers as they live in tents. They say that the lake was once filled with water but dried out after Kissing Kate Barlow started raiding the land of Texas (There is a story explaining the mystery of the lake). The campers wake up at 4:30 then start digging as it is cooler then. There are many holes, but the campers at first do not really know why they are digging. Mr. Pendanski says it helps change their personality. They eventually find out that they are looking for treasure buried by Kissing Kate Barlow, when she was younger.
The boys have to be especially watch out when they are digging because there are rattle snakes and yellow spotted lizards that roam around. The lizards' venom will make you have a slow and painful death if one ever bites you.

Basically, Stanley is a boy who was sent to a juvenile correctional facility for stealing shoes (which he didn't steal). He is forced to dig holes for some treasure which the Warden wants. The boys dig and dig and during his stay, Zero (another boy), asks Stanley to teach him how to write and read. Soon Zero and Stanley become best friends.
One day, Zero runs away into the desert and eventually, Stanley runs away to look for him. When Stanley finds Zero, under the shade of an old boat, Zero is totally dehydrated and weak and he is only kept alive by an old peach mixture. With no other choise they decide to climb up the mountain to a rock they could see in the distance, this rock is shaped like a thumb. Stanley calls it god's thumb. They climb up the mountain and Stanley carries Zero while it is dark. They end up in a pool of onions and they also find water which is just about drinkable.
They then decide to go back to the camp to look for a treasure during the night. They dig in the hole which Stanley had found an item. There they find the treasure the Warden was looking for. The Warden, Mr Sir as well as Mr Pendanski find them there. The hole which they are in is full of yellow spotted lizards which jump on Zero's and Stanley's bodies. Surprisingly, Stanley and Zero are still alive towards the morning when Ms. Morengo turns up - Stanley's Lawyer. Meanwhile Zero reads the name on the box and it says Stanley Yelnats - Stanley's name.
So Stanley then leaves the camp and takes Zero with him. With all the things from he box, Zero hires private investigator and finds his mum. Stanley's dad is successful with his inventions and Camp Green Lake gets shut down.
A happy ending