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The Wednesday Wars

by Schmidt, Gary D.


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780618724833]

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Publishers Weekly :

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Starred Review. On the first day of the 1967–68 school year, Holling Hoodhood thinks he's made a mortal enemy of his new teacher when it turns out he's the only seventh-grader who does not leave early every Wednesday to attend Hebrew school or catechism. (Holling is Presbyterian, and though eminently likeable, he does have a knack for unintentionally making enemies.) Stern Mrs. Baker first gives him custodial duties, but after hilarious if far-fetched catastrophes involving chalk dust, rats and freshly baked cream puffs, she switches to making him read Shakespeare. He overcomes his initial horror, adopting the Bard's inventive cursing as his own to dress down schoolyard bullies. Indeed standing up for himself is the real battle Holling is waging, especially at home, where his architect father has the entire family under his thumb. Schmidt, whose Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy won both Printz and Newbery Honors, delivers another winner here, convincingly evoking 1960s Long Island, with Walter Cronkite's nightly updates about Vietnam as the soundtrack. The serious issues are leavened with ample humor, and the supporting cast—especially the wise and wonderful Mrs. Baker—is fully dimensional. Best of all is the hero, who shows himself to be more of a man than his authoritarian father. Unlike most Vietnam stories, this one ends happily, as Schmidt rewards the good guys with victories that, if not entirely true to the period, deeply satisfy. Ages 10-14. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780618724833]

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5–8—This entertaining and nuanced novel limns Holling Hoodhood's seventh-grade year in his Long Island community, beginning in the fall of 1967. His classmates, half of whom are Jewish, the other half Catholic, leave early on Wednesdays to attend religious training. As the sole Presbyterian, he finds himself stranded with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, whom he's sure has it in for him. She starts off creating mindless chores for him but then induces him to read Shakespeare—lots of Shakespeare. Chapters titled by month initially seem overlong, relating such diverse elements as two terrifying escaped rats, cream puffs from a local bakery, his dad being a cheapskate/cutthroat architect, and Holling's tentative and sweet relationship with classmate Meryl Lee. The scary Doug Swieteck, and his even more frightening brother, and the Vietnam War are recurring menaces. A subplot involves a classmate who, as a recent Vietnamese refugee, is learning English and suffers taunts and prejudice. Cross-country tryouts, rescuing his older runaway sister, and opening day at Yankee Stadium are highlights. There are laugh-out-loud moments that leaven the many poignant ones as Schmidt explores many important themes, not the least of which is what makes a person a hero. The tone may seem cloying at first and the plot occasionally goes over-the-top, but readers who stick with the story will be rewarded. They will appreciate Holling's gentle, caring ways and will be sad to have the book end.—Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 0618724834]

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BookList :

From BookList, , 2007, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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*Starred Review* On Wednesday afternoons, while his Catholic and Jewish schoolmates attend religious instruction, Holling Hoodhood, the only Presbyterian in his seventh grade, is alone in the classroom with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, who Holling is convinced hates his guts. He feels more certain after Mrs. Baker assigns Shakespeare's plays for Holling to discuss during their shared afternoons. Each month in Holling's tumultuous seventh-grade year is a chapter in this quietly powerful coming-of-age novel set in suburban Long Island during the late '60s. The slow start may deter some readers, and Mrs. Baker is too good to be true: she arranges a meeting between Holling and the New York Yankees, brokers a deal to save a student's father's architectural firm, and, after revealing her past as an Olympic runner, coaches Holling to the varsity cross-country team. However, Schmidt, whose Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2005) was named both a Printz and a Newbery Honor Book, makes the implausible believable and the everyday momentous. Seamlessly, heáknits together the story'sá themes: the cultural uproar of the '60s, the internal uproar of early adolescence, and the timeless wisdom of Shakespeare's words. Holling's unwavering, distinctive voice offers a gentle, hopeful, moving story of a boy who, with the right help, learns to stretch beyond the limitations of his family, his violent times, and his fear, as he leaps into his future with hisáeyes and his heart wide open. Engberg, Gillian.

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