Stanley is on a bus to Camp Green Lake. He is the only passenger, and he is handcuffed to his seat. There's also an armed guard on the bus. So far, so yikes.
The bus ride is hot and unpleasant. All Stanley has with him are a few possessions, including some stationery he brought so he can write to his mom. This is one sweet guy.
When Stanley was younger, he used to play a game with stuffed animals, a marble, and some broken rubber bands, pretending that his stuffed animals were going to camp and having lots of fun. Talk about making something from nothing.
Two more facts about Stanley: he's overweight and has no friends. Oh, and he's on the bus because he was arrested for a crime he didn't commit. So that's not awesome.
There is a joke in Stanley's family that when things go wrong, it's because of Stanley's "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" (3.10). According to family legend, Stanley's great-great-grandfather was cursed by a one-legged gypsy for stealing her pig, and the curse is still in place. Best family story ever.
Stanley's dad's name is also Stanley: for generations, the Yelnats sons (who have all been only children) have been named Stanley. They seem to like the fact that the name Stanley Yelnats is spelled the same forward and backwards. (The fancy term for a word or name like this is a "palindrome." There are tons of pretty fun examples.)
All of these Stanley Yelnatses (kind of a mouthful, we know) have been unlucky, poor and –amazingly – hopeful.
The first Stanley Yelnats (our Stanley's great-grandfather) was rich, but he lost all his money when his stagecoach was robbed by a famous outlaw called Kissin' Kate Barlow.
Kissin' Kate Barlow didn't actually kiss Stanley's great-grandfather; apparently she only kissed the men she was planning to kill. Well, then.
The apartment in which Stanley's family lives smells super nasty – like feet! – because Stanley's father is trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. It turns out it was this project that somehow led to Stanley's being arrested. This should be good.