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The Wednesday Wars

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The Wednesday Wars PDF, ePub eBook In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his te In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

30 review for The Wednesday Wars

  1. 5 out of 5

    L A i N E Y

    Audiobook rating: ★★★★★ Book rating: ★★★★★ “J U S T   S W E L L” Oh I am so going to miss you ‘let me tell you’ about your life to me, Holling!! “I never thought being in seven grade would mean so many death threats” Written so convincingly youthful and full of hearts and humor. Holling Hoodhood’s journey into seven grade is peppered with misadventures, extremely good luck, self discovery and even Shakespeare. So hilarious and sarcastic and really heartfelt. ► I listened to the audiobook and oh my Audiobook rating: ★★★★★ Book rating: ★★★★★ “J U S T   S W E L L” Oh I am so going to miss you ‘let me tell you’ about your life to me, Holling!! “I never thought being in seven grade would mean so many death threats” Written so convincingly youthful and full of hearts and humor. Holling Hoodhood’s journey into seven grade is peppered with misadventures, extremely good luck, self discovery and even Shakespeare. So hilarious and sarcastic and really heartfelt. ► I listened to the audiobook and oh my lord, I could not stop! Love the narrator’s voice too much: he has this boyish/teenage voice and his performance is pitch perfect: awkward and sarcastic. ❤

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Holling Hoodhood’s got a problem. It’s 1967, and he’s just started seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, and his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Every Wednesday afternoon, half of the kids in Holling’s class go to Hebrew school and the other half go to St. Adelbert’s for catechism. And Holling, as the only Presbyterian in the class, stays behind with Mrs. Baker. And Mrs. Baker makes him read Shakespeare. Outside of class. What follows is a year in Holling’s life, a year of Wednesdays with Mrs Holling Hoodhood’s got a problem. It’s 1967, and he’s just started seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, and his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Every Wednesday afternoon, half of the kids in Holling’s class go to Hebrew school and the other half go to St. Adelbert’s for catechism. And Holling, as the only Presbyterian in the class, stays behind with Mrs. Baker. And Mrs. Baker makes him read Shakespeare. Outside of class. What follows is a year in Holling’s life, a year of Wednesdays with Mrs. Baker and life in general. It’s 1967, and his sister wants to be a flower child, and his father owns the architecture firm Hoodhood and Associates and sees Holling as The Son Who Will Inherit Hoodhood and Associates. There are rats, and cream puffs, and Doug Swieteck’s brother. There are telegrams and baseballs and tights (with feathers!) and atomic bomb drills. This is a quiet book that gets you in all the right places. If I had to sum it up in a phrase, I’d say it was about how people surprise you—sometimes in bad ways, and more often in very good ways. It’s about heroes—the ones you create for yourself, and the ones that you discover. It’s about finding your way when the world is confusing. It’s about being in seventh grade, and learning that it’s not who you are that matters, but who you decide to be. This book made me laugh out loud on the subway, those big belly laughs that make strangers think you’re crazy. It also made me cry, no less that four times. This is not a book with great tragedy, but it is a book with great power. It’s a book that made me feel. I read it slowly, reading and rereading each line and word, savoring the chapters. But I didn’t horde it, didn’t put it down and save it for later, because I could. not. stop. reading. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t so much that I needed to know what happened—it was more that I desperately wanted to hear Holling’s voice in my head some more. I wanted more afternoons with Mrs. Baker. This is the kind of book that you read and reread, and then read bits aloud to the people you care about, because you want to share it with them. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like you really, really know the characters, like what happens to them is important to you. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to read Shakespeare, and more importantly, to curse like Caliban. It’s really one of the best reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. I urge you to read it. I want to talk about the Mickey Mantle episode with you. I want to hear what you think about cream puffs. And I want you to know what I mean when I say, “toads, beetles, bats.” Or “chrysanthemum.” Mostly, I want you to meet Holling Hoodhood and Mrs. Baker, two of my new favorite literary creations. I want them to be part of your life the way they’ve been part of mine since I started this book. I really think you’ll like them a lot.

  3. 5 out of 5

    karen

    this is my second book for the readventurer challenge. this book is very...sweet. and ordinarily,a sweet book would make me feel like i had chiggers or something else foul crawling under my skin, and its earnest gee-whizzery would make me feel unclean just because of my mental rolodex of words that are more satisfying to say in moments of astonishment or crisis than "gee whiz." but this one was different. this one was entirely wholesome, yeah, but wholesome and satisfying like fresh-baked bread, a this is my second book for the readventurer challenge. this book is very...sweet. and ordinarily,a sweet book would make me feel like i had chiggers or something else foul crawling under my skin, and its earnest gee-whizzery would make me feel unclean just because of my mental rolodex of words that are more satisfying to say in moments of astonishment or crisis than "gee whiz." but this one was different. this one was entirely wholesome, yeah, but wholesome and satisfying like fresh-baked bread, and i didn't want to roll my eyes at all. this book is many things, but for me, the best part is the inspirational-teacher aspect of it. i loved the way holling's character changed under mrs. baker's ministrations; how his worldview expanded through shakespeare as he was able to find parallels between the stories of shakespeare and the trials facing him in his own life.he went from a boy who was scared of his teacher and believed everyone was against him, to a confident, articulate boy who found the strength to stand up to his father,fight injustice and face his fears. my only complaint is that there isn't much in the way of dramatic tension. you learn pretty early on that any time something negative could happen, it is like there is a teflon bubble of groovy sixties optimism that just protects him from bad times. and this despite the backdrop of the vietnam war. but it is middle grade, and who wants to make a ten-year-old cry, right? but- yeah - it is pretty forrest gumpy, down to the running and everything. but it means well, and it is a sweet story that i am glad i read. i will make this review make more sense later - right now my brain is completely melted.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    A Review in Two Parts Part One Ariel, recommended this book to me, and she wrote a fine good review of the book. You can find it by clicking on her name. I really liked the book, but didn't love it. I think the things I didn't love about the book were me being a crank. For example, the myopic narrator view point of a seventh grader was great; it caught the distortions that a kid sees the world through and the way teachers and others outside of their own circle are depersonalized into roles instead A Review in Two Parts Part One Ariel, recommended this book to me, and she wrote a fine good review of the book. You can find it by clicking on her name. I really liked the book, but didn't love it. I think the things I didn't love about the book were me being a crank. For example, the myopic narrator view point of a seventh grader was great; it caught the distortions that a kid sees the world through and the way teachers and others outside of their own circle are depersonalized into roles instead of people. Without being preachy, though. But, then I would not like the Wally and Beaver golly-gee attitude that would at times sneak into the book. Sometimes it worked for good comic effect but it seemed too pure and innocent for me. Another part that I'm not quite sure how I feel is the Forest Gump path the story veers off into sometimes. But maybe if Tom Hanks hadn't starred in the movie I wouldn't be annoyed by anything that reminds me of the movie. On the plus side, I really like the month of May in the book (each chapter is a month in the school year). I was a little afraid of what May may bring when I was reading the book, you know since it would be May 1968, probably the most tragic month of the second half of the 20th century. I'm not interested in going into detail and talking late story plot developments or anything, so I'll just leave it that the author does a great job capturing a certain pathos by this point in the novel that originally had only been a suburban comedic effect. If I was a teacher of young adults and I had them read this book, I'd probably test them by asking them this question: "Tragedy or Comedy? Why? Explain and Defend". Part Two (If you are averse to potty mouth language please go away, I'm about to rant it up. You've been warned. Now go away if you don't like dirty words. Seriously. Go Away) Anyway, thank you for sticking around. This part is called Wednesday Wars as Republican Fantasy , or something like that. The basic premise of this book is that there is this one WASP kid in a Long Island class surrounded by Papists taking orders from the Vatican (and thus only a step better than Communists, but never to be trusted as real Americans) and Jews (those greedy fucks who run the banks., ie., the ones who figure a way to swindle the poor upper middle class white Protestant males money from him through usury, liberal politics, socialism and ultimately Communism). This paragon of WHITE AMERICA is (gasp!) a MINORITY in this own home, and further more sees that the people in power (his teacher) irrationally hates him! (Just like Big Government (i.e., Liberals, Democrats, (see Jews!) hate the SILENT MAJORITY- which is not mentioned in the book, but which would be used as a rallying slogan by Nixon in the 1968 elections)). See the character in this book as RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN AMERICA circa, well whenever, but today is good. When they are a MAJORITY but for some reason see themselves as a persecuted MINORITY, and they are angry, ANGRY, ANGRY!!!!! that anyone else gets any of the pie besides them, and that if people aren't on their hands and knees sucking their dicks then they are only trying to steal their money and take things away from them (see THOSE FUCKING GAYS WITH THEIR WANTING TO GET MARRIED!!!! HOW DARE THEY!!!!!!). This might sound like fiction, but sadly it's not. A 13 year old has the right to seeing the world in a distorted manner or persecution. A nation of adults seeing the world in the same way is sad?, scary?, retarded?, enough to make one (me) want to seriously reconsider democracy and not let those suffering from extreme persecution delusions have a right to vote? All of the above? This isn't even so much a rant, as a pointing out of another story going on in this book. Sadly, for my theory here, the White, Right and Dumb American story falls apart after a chapter or two. Which goes to show that 13 year olds can grow, but stupid ignorant tea-baggers haven't yet shown that they can.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Catie

    This book is a heartwarming mix of nostalgia, life lessons, beauty, and awkward humor with a nice side of brown…light…perfect cream puffs. And let me tell you; it’s really swell. Holling Hoodhood is the only kid in the seventh grade who doesn’t have to attend either Temple or Catechism on Wednesday afternoons. No, instead he gets to spend every single Wednesday afternoon with Mrs. Baker, who hates his guts. Each Wednesday she finds new ways to torture him: endless cleaning of chalkboard erasers, This book is a heartwarming mix of nostalgia, life lessons, beauty, and awkward humor with a nice side of brown…light…perfect cream puffs. And let me tell you; it’s really swell. Holling Hoodhood is the only kid in the seventh grade who doesn’t have to attend either Temple or Catechism on Wednesday afternoons. No, instead he gets to spend every single Wednesday afternoon with Mrs. Baker, who hates his guts. Each Wednesday she finds new ways to torture him: endless cleaning of chalkboard erasers, rodent wrangling, and Shakespeare. On the surface, this book seems idealistic and a bit light. But as it unfolds, there are moments of truth, tragedy, and deep emotion. The story takes place during one of the most tumultuous times in American history, and the undercurrents of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement are ever present. In the beginning, Holling is an unassuming, agreeable boy who seems to take whatever Mrs. Baker and the other students have to dish out. He has moments of small rebellion (mostly in his head), but he doesn’t really stand up for himself. But by the end of this story, he has confidence and conviction. His growth into a mature almost-man is incredibly moving. I fell in love with all of the characters in this book: Mrs. Baker, evil mastermind; Danny, my pied ninny fighting hero; Holling’s sister, innocently rebellious; even Mrs. Bigio, who resurrected her gods. This book grabbed a hold of my emotions and carried me right along. It’s rare that I am able to completely buy in to a story this wholesome and light hearted, but it happened here. I also love Holling’s changing reactions to the words and lessons of the Shakespeare plays that he reads. It makes me think of all of the great works that I’ve read, that have impacted me in completely different ways at different times of my life. I think that’s what great literature does: it speaks across age and experience. It translates for all of us, in different but equally powerful ways. This is one of the best audio performances I’ve come across. Joel Johnstone sounds quite a bit like Fred Savage (which only adds the Wonder Years vibe that I get from this book). He also manages to capture Mrs. Baker’s dry genius, Meryl Lee’s sweetness, and Holling’s father’s brusque indifference. And the voice that he uses for Mrs. Brigio sounds exactly like lunch lady Doris from the Simpsons! Perfect Musical Pairing Paul Simon – American Tune One of my favorite songs, about the despair and weariness of the American past and present, but I think that it ends on a hopeful note. Tomorrow’s going to be another day, and we don’t know what will come, but we will face whatever it is.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

    There’s something very pleasant about kids’ books written in the ’60s. They have an assurance that books written in later, more apologetic and hesitant decades lack. They’re usually untroubled by the social upheaval all around them. Hippies may show up here or there, but the books are more likely to be about time travel, or inventions, or mysteries. This is one of the things you can only learn from consuming texts from that era: that people who lived in the ’60s didn’t know they were living in th There’s something very pleasant about kids’ books written in the ’60s. They have an assurance that books written in later, more apologetic and hesitant decades lack. They’re usually untroubled by the social upheaval all around them. Hippies may show up here or there, but the books are more likely to be about time travel, or inventions, or mysteries. This is one of the things you can only learn from consuming texts from that era: that people who lived in the ’60s didn’t know they were living in the ’60s. Watch Blow-Up for the scene in which a character (in a film that features the Yardbirds) invites a girl back to his swinging pad and plays on the hifi elevator jazz. Don’t you know what decade you’re in? you want to scream at him. Play the Yardbirds, you idiot! But he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. Much less pleasant are contemporary kids’ books that take place in the ’60s. All of a sudden the author (a baby boomer, no doubt) realizes he’s writing about the most significant decade since the end of the Roman republic, and he can hardly stop his giggling. Assurance becomes smugness. The book becomes a checklist. Kennedys? Check. Vietnam? Check. Air-raid drills? Flower children? Political assassinations? Civil rights? The generation gap? Student unrest? Rock and roll? Check, check them all! Wednesday Wars checks them all off, dutifully, and unimaginatively. It’s more or less a sitcom otherwise, with sitcom situations that are sometimes amusing and usually just chaotic and trite. The mary-sue narrator gets to (view spoiler)[hang out with the NY Yankees and make varsity and be a hero and get the girl and “become a man.” It was sort of tolerable until the irritatingly wise and wonderful English teacher (stern, but with a heart of gold) was revealed to be an Olympic silver medalist. (hide spoiler)] At this point, Stanley Fish’s reader-response meter moved to vomit. Is the author an English teacher and a child of the ’60s? By gum, says wikipedia, he is! OMG GUYS! THE SIXTIES!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    At first I thought this book was too young for me. The protagonist is a 7th grader, an age I am far past. It was a bit slow at first and my initial conclusion was: This would be great book for a middle school boy, especially one you want to get interested in Shakespeare, but not so great for the general reader. And then I kept reading and realized that this was a brilliant, touching and funny book. Schmidt is excellent at making believable, nuanced characters--not something I often see at books a At first I thought this book was too young for me. The protagonist is a 7th grader, an age I am far past. It was a bit slow at first and my initial conclusion was: This would be great book for a middle school boy, especially one you want to get interested in Shakespeare, but not so great for the general reader. And then I kept reading and realized that this was a brilliant, touching and funny book. Schmidt is excellent at making believable, nuanced characters--not something I often see at books aimed at preteens. None of the villainous characters are simply one note. The cafeteria lady, for example, loses her son in the Vietnam War and takes it out on the little Vietnamese refugee at the school. But at the same time the cafeteria lady shows true kindness and charity to others. Holling's father is another example. He is demanding, distant, competitive, and often gets angry with his daughter's peacnik attitude. But when Martin Luther King, Jr. (who Holling's father actively dislikes) is assassinated, Holling's father is shocked and upset. Holling himself is more complex than he first appears. He is the same initial everykid (smart but not too smart, physically unimpressive, picked on by his sister and unable to understand some basic social cues) in every book aimed at young boys. But he matures into a young man of such courage and character that I wondered how such a cold father and weak mother could be lucky enough to raise such an amazing kid.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    If a junior high aged boy is part of your household, give him this book. He'll love it, and it will do him good. And if you happen to have been in junior high during the year 1968, this book can serve as a reminder of life (and national politics) at that time. In case you don't remember, 1968 is the year that both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. People today worry about the polarization of American politics. Back in the late 60s things were more polarized, and in a muc If a junior high aged boy is part of your household, give him this book. He'll love it, and it will do him good. And if you happen to have been in junior high during the year 1968, this book can serve as a reminder of life (and national politics) at that time. In case you don't remember, 1968 is the year that both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. People today worry about the polarization of American politics. Back in the late 60s things were more polarized, and in a much closer to home way at the family level. It seemed as if each American household was polarized with the youth contingent wanting to drop out, grow long hair, and be an anti-Vietnam-war protester and hippie. Meanwhile their parents were going ballistic over how spoiled and degenerate the younger generation was. In this story the junior high boy has a high school aged sister who aspires to be a flower child much to the consternation of her parents. I was originally attracted to this book because the main character who is a junior high student happens to be attending a school where he is the only student in his class who is not either Jewish or Catholic (his family is Presbyterian). Consequently, when the students leave once per week for released time religious classes, he is the only one left in class. (Do public schools still have released time?) That sounded like an interesting situation to write a story about. At first the teacher was probably just as disappointed as the student of being left together in the class room. But they grew to appreciate each other by the end of the story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I think I have come to understand what it takes for a book to be awarded Newbery. It seems these Newberry awarded books are just so wholesome, so full of great life lessons, so sweet and touching in a non-nauseating or preachy way. The Wednesday Wars is just like that. 13-year old Holling Hoodhood is in trouble. While his Jewish and Catholic classmates attend religious studies on Wednesday afternoons, he, the only Presbyterian in his class, is forced to spend this time with his English teacher Mr I think I have come to understand what it takes for a book to be awarded Newbery. It seems these Newberry awarded books are just so wholesome, so full of great life lessons, so sweet and touching in a non-nauseating or preachy way. The Wednesday Wars is just like that. 13-year old Holling Hoodhood is in trouble. While his Jewish and Catholic classmates attend religious studies on Wednesday afternoons, he, the only Presbyterian in his class, is forced to spend this time with his English teacher Mrs. Baker. Holling is absolutely sure Mrs. Baker hates his guts - she makes him clean the classroom and, eventually, read Shakespeare. But as time goes on, both Mrs. Baker and Shakespeare teach Holling how to be a better friend, son, brother, a better person. The Wednesday Wars is just a sweet coming-of-age story. Holling is an innocent boy who by the end of the story becomes a wiser young man, after going though tribulations of being seen by his classmates wearing yellow tights with feathers on his butt, standing up to his unreasonable father and confronting bullies. The story made me laugh, sigh, and, to my surprise, shed some tears of joy. The only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5, is that it is a little young for my taste, definitely written for middle-grade kids. But otherwise, it is a perfectly enjoyable story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    If I had the option to give 6 stars to The Wednesday Wars, I'd do it. I giggled out loud at least 30 times on the bus *and* the train, earning myself a certain public transit notoriety as That Annoying Lady With The Book. And most people didn't even notice me getting teary during the poignant parts. Of course I'd heard glowing reviews of this book, but I didn't love Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, so I was skeptical. But no longer. Gary Schmidt, please write more! It's 1967-68, and Hollin If I had the option to give 6 stars to The Wednesday Wars, I'd do it. I giggled out loud at least 30 times on the bus *and* the train, earning myself a certain public transit notoriety as That Annoying Lady With The Book. And most people didn't even notice me getting teary during the poignant parts. Of course I'd heard glowing reviews of this book, but I didn't love Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, so I was skeptical. But no longer. Gary Schmidt, please write more! It's 1967-68, and Holling Hoodhood is the only Presbyterian kid in his seventh-grade class. That means that while half the town is at CCD on Wednesday afternoons and the other half is at Hebrew school, he's stuck in the classroom with his tough-as-nails teacher. First he does small chores, but after a disaster with eraser-cleaning, the teacher sits him down to work his way through Shakespeare. Over the course of the year, he develops a strong relationship with his teacher (and with the Bard's colorful curses). The tumultuous background of 1968 plays heavily in the month-by-month chapters that structure the book. Here's what I loved: Holling's voice (hilarious), the characters (Danny Hupfer!), how much the reader must infer from Holling's point of view in order to appreciate what's going on. Here's what I'm not so sure of: can young readers really appreciate all that's going on, especially the ways in which Holling is not the most reliable narrator? Do they? I enjoyed The Wednesday Wars more than anything I've read in a while, but I couldn't dismiss the nagging voice that kept noisily insisting that this was really a grown-up book dressed up in kid's clothing. The readers at my school with are too young for this book, but I'm eager to hear from other teachers and librarians how it's received by real live teens and tweens. In the meantime, you adult readers of kidlit and YA lit - read it! read it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Oh it's the season to read the books we adults want children to read, and in actual fact they have no interest in doing so. Wednesday Wars sadly falls into that catagory. It's 1968, and Holling Hoodhood is stuck with his teacher every Wednesday afternoon when the rest of his class attends religious education classes that their respective places of worship. Holling learns to love Shakespeare, and how to run a good race, and he learns to understand his teacher, Mrs. Baker, and to love his older si Oh it's the season to read the books we adults want children to read, and in actual fact they have no interest in doing so. Wednesday Wars sadly falls into that catagory. It's 1968, and Holling Hoodhood is stuck with his teacher every Wednesday afternoon when the rest of his class attends religious education classes that their respective places of worship. Holling learns to love Shakespeare, and how to run a good race, and he learns to understand his teacher, Mrs. Baker, and to love his older sister, who is mildly caught up in the tumult of the era. Holling was likable, there were humorous parts especially the escaped classroom rats, and he came of age with a few interesting adventures; both bittersweet and funny- Mickey Mantle was a total meathead to poor Holling who at the time rushed from the play he was in and happened to be wearing feathers on his butt playing the fairy, Ariel. I liked this story, and teachers will like this story, and doubtless put it on summer reading lists and the like. Will the majority of kids like this story? If they are assigned it, some will like it. Is this a book most will pick up and read on their own? Not likely.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    So good! This book covers middle school drama with humor and wit, with the somber Vietnam War as a backdrop. If you like Konigsburg, you'll love The Wednesday Wars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    JonathanT

    Honestly? This book is pretty much brilliant. It blends humor with emotion in just the right doses. It presents a mostly action-less storyline that's still strangely compelling, and it wields theme like a sword. But, unfortunately, it's also got pluralistic/humanistic undertones that I wasn't really a fan of. The book has a lot about "finding yourself" and "choosing your own future." The main character ends up trying out elements of a number of different religions and then having emotional, happ Honestly? This book is pretty much brilliant. It blends humor with emotion in just the right doses. It presents a mostly action-less storyline that's still strangely compelling, and it wields theme like a sword. But, unfortunately, it's also got pluralistic/humanistic undertones that I wasn't really a fan of. The book has a lot about "finding yourself" and "choosing your own future." The main character ends up trying out elements of a number of different religions and then having emotional, happy experiences. Every religion is portrayed as worthy to be explored. The one other thing I didn't like is that the main character's family was dysfunctional and the Dad is a stick figure, basically. Plus he's portrayed in a very negative light, which made me cringe a little. BUT YES. Other than those things, I did really like this. I loved the poignancy, the humor, the bits and pieces of history. I loved the baseball and the Shakespeare. But I'd only recommend it to older, more discerning readers. :D

  14. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I love this book. Love, love, love, love, love, love. Love. First, it takes place on Long Island, which I didn't even know when I ordered it for the library. So, sure I got an extra chuckle out of Schmidt's description of LI in November than the reader from, say, Nebraska will. But still, this is just an adorable story and you don't have to be stuck on the Long Island Expressway to enoy it. It reminds me of Richard Peck, if Richard Peck wrote about 1960's surburban life and not 1930's Illinois. I love this book. Love, love, love, love, love, love. Love. First, it takes place on Long Island, which I didn't even know when I ordered it for the library. So, sure I got an extra chuckle out of Schmidt's description of LI in November than the reader from, say, Nebraska will. But still, this is just an adorable story and you don't have to be stuck on the Long Island Expressway to enoy it. It reminds me of Richard Peck, if Richard Peck wrote about 1960's surburban life and not 1930's Illinois. It is heartfelt and hopeful without being hokey. A must-read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This book is written like a monthly diary of a seventh grade boy named Holling Hoodhood. It's supposed to be realistic fiction set in 1967, but the events are about as believable as his name. I didn't like it. Here's why. Everybody around Holling is completely insensitive and cold-hearted, including his father, his mother, his sister, his teacher Mrs. Baker, the school principal, his friends and classmates, Doug Sweiteck's brother, and Micky Mantle. Holling is a complete victim of circumstance. H This book is written like a monthly diary of a seventh grade boy named Holling Hoodhood. It's supposed to be realistic fiction set in 1967, but the events are about as believable as his name. I didn't like it. Here's why. Everybody around Holling is completely insensitive and cold-hearted, including his father, his mother, his sister, his teacher Mrs. Baker, the school principal, his friends and classmates, Doug Sweiteck's brother, and Micky Mantle. Holling is a complete victim of circumstance. He has the worst of fortune due to everyone's mean spiritedness. And then suddenly and without explanation, his bad luck is completely reversed. Someone just happens to do something extraordinarily nice for him without any apparent reason or motivation. Like when Mrs. Baker, who hates his guts, arranges for some of the Yankees players to come to the school to play catch with him. Yes, him. Or when Kowalski & Associates suddenly backs out of the business contract, leaving Holling's dad to fulfill the contract to build the new junior high school. Or the time Holling wants to buy some cream puffs for his friends so they won't beat him up. He's short a couple of dollars, but the baker just happens to need someone who can play a part in a Shakespeare production, and Holling just happens to be memorizing Shakespeare, so he gets the part, not to mention free cream puffs. Whether good luck or bad, everything that happens to Holling just happens to him. It just happens to happen to him. It's not a result of any choices that he makes. He's on a roller-coaster of luck, but always, always the victim of circumstance. And let me tell you, that does not make for a good story. Really. This kind of complete reversal of fortune is an easy way for the writer to get himself out after he's painted himself into a corner. But it's not an easy thing to read. I felt insulted by the lack of sophistication. I expect a more explanation for how things turn around than sheer dumb luck. And I expect the character's actions to have something to do with it. There is no grander plot. Something terrible and wonderful happens each month. Month after month, beginning with the start of the school year. By March, I had to force myself to finish the book. Toads, beetles, bats. Except for the Holling and Mrs. Baker, all of the characters seemed faceless, like the adults in Charlie Brown. And none of them made sense. Mrs. Baker has a split personality. Holling's father doesn't care about anything or anyone except his business, and everyone that Holling knows just happens to be connected to his father's business, either as a partner, potential partner, or competitor. We never see another side of dad. Not even a twinge of sympathy. Not even a crack of a smile. His friends Danny and Mai Thi torment him at the beginning of the school year, threatening to beat him up. In the second half of the book, they are nice friends. I guess it was because Holling gave them cream puffs. All the students at school act in unison. They all hate Holling's guts or regard him as a hero for having his picture in the paper again and again. As though none of the students have anything better to do than to care what Holling Hoodhood is up to.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin Hatcher

    I first read The Wednesday Wars in 2011, and I have never forgotten it (especially the yellow tights and the story that surrounds them). Recently I bought the audiobook so I could read it again. Glad I did. It was just as much a delight the second time through. Toward the end of the book, I drove to a wedding, an hour drive each way along a winding mountain road. I laughed out loud numerous times, and the drive seemed to fly by. The Wednesday Wars is set during the school year of 1967-1968. The I first read The Wednesday Wars in 2011, and I have never forgotten it (especially the yellow tights and the story that surrounds them). Recently I bought the audiobook so I could read it again. Glad I did. It was just as much a delight the second time through. Toward the end of the book, I drove to a wedding, an hour drive each way along a winding mountain road. I laughed out loud numerous times, and the drive seemed to fly by. The Wednesday Wars is set during the school year of 1967-1968. The protagonist is 7th grader Holling Hoodhood, the only Presbyterian in his class. Every Wednesday, half the class goes off for Hebrew instruction and the other half goes off for Catholic instruction. Holling is left in his teacher’s care. If not for him, Mrs. Baker would have Wednesday afternoons off. Therefore he is sure she hates him as only a teacher can and is out to kill him in devious ways, including by making him read Shakespeare plays. I don’t want to give away too much of the story. But I will say this: I laughed and laughed and laughed. I related to all the angst of a 12 year old. I remembered those atomic bomb drills where we got under our desks. I also ached over parts of the story. The writer is truly gifted at saying much with a few words. He also reminded me why I’m glad I’m not a 7th grade boy dealing with the 8th grade boys on the cross-country team. Read the book to know what I mean. LOL! And it is a rare writer who can bring me to tears while I’m walking on the treadmill, but that’s what happened to me when he so wonderfully described the sound Mrs. Baker made when–– (Nope! Not gonna say more.) If you were ever a kid, if you were ever in the 7th grade, and especially if you were a 7th grade kid during the turbulent ’60s, you need to read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heathercrow

    This book was absolutely fabulous! I enjoyed every minute of it. I was very surprised to find out that it was more than just a Jr. High kid putting up with bullies. It was about life and how you deal with different trials no matter what your age is and everyone deals with these trials in different ways. I am totally serious when I say that I laughed and cried and ignored my family until it was done. It is very worthy of the 2008 newberry award.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    One of the best books I have read in a long time. I felt my self reading slower in an attempt to never get to the end. Mrs. Baker is one of the greatest teacher characters I have met.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Duffy Pratt

    It oozes charm. In the first half of the book, Schmidt really had me. I absolutely loved everything surrounding the incident with the creampuffs and its aftermath. While the charm remained, the second half lacked a bit of direction. It didn't quite stall, but the plot is a very slender reed here. And outside of Holling and Mrs. Baker, the characters are all pretty thin. There's also a fairly horrifying aspect here. During this book, Holling does the following: Appears as Ariel in a local performa It oozes charm. In the first half of the book, Schmidt really had me. I absolutely loved everything surrounding the incident with the creampuffs and its aftermath. While the charm remained, the second half lacked a bit of direction. It didn't quite stall, but the plot is a very slender reed here. And outside of Holling and Mrs. Baker, the characters are all pretty thin. There's also a fairly horrifying aspect here. During this book, Holling does the following: Appears as Ariel in a local performance of The Tempest; gets brushed by a school bus while saving his sister and landing in the hospital, gets opening day tickets to see the Yankees, goes to Port Authority again to rescue his prodigal sister, runs and wins a varsity cross country match. His parents are not there for any of these things. For his performance in the play, they are too busy watching the Bing Crosby Christmas Special. When he lands in the hospital, they couldn't be bothered. For opening day, his father promises to take him, in spite of already having two prior engagements which he knows he will keep. The father is an incredible asshole, more distant than any Dad I knew of while growing up. And the mom is almost a cypher. With parents like these, its basically a miracle that Holling and his sister grow up with any sense at all. This leaves me wondering: is this how many Boomers think of themselves? As having turned out well in spite of the neglect of their parents? An additional charm of this book for me is that I grew up in the next town over from Hicksville, where this takes place. He never mentions Hicksville in the book, but its where Schmidt is from. Also, I was one of the kids who left our school for religious instruction (on Fridays instead of Wednesdays). That lasted until I got kicked out for arguing with the nuns. Schmidt does such a great job of capturing the spirit of growing up in sheltered Long Island in the sixties. It almost makes me think that most of the book would be lost on its targeted audience. That said, early teenagers recommended this one to me, so it must play pretty well to at least some of the YAs (at least those who don't spend all of their time re-reading yet again the same couple of series).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Without too much effort, you could probably come up with a dozen or so books of the Teacher-Who's-Totally-Mean-At-First-Develops-A-Mentoring-Relationship-With-The-Student-And-There-Are-Some-Life-Lessons-And-A-Bunch-Of-Growing-Up-Happens Genre, but dollars to doughnuts, none would be quite as good or as fun to read as Wednesday Wars. Toads, beetles, bats, I loved it--as the Bard might say. This one could probably work as young as fourth grade.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily M

    Another reviewer mentioned that this book shows that it was written by a Baby Boomer, and I had the exact same thought while reading. My parents were exactly the age of the protagonist in 1968, and while they remember where they were when they heard MKL Jr had been assassinated, the stories they tell about junior high are all about normal life, not what Walter Cronkite was saying about the Viet Cong on the evening news. I mean, I bet American history teachers everywhere are assigning this to the Another reviewer mentioned that this book shows that it was written by a Baby Boomer, and I had the exact same thought while reading. My parents were exactly the age of the protagonist in 1968, and while they remember where they were when they heard MKL Jr had been assassinated, the stories they tell about junior high are all about normal life, not what Walter Cronkite was saying about the Viet Cong on the evening news. I mean, I bet American history teachers everywhere are assigning this to their classes because it checks all the major 60's boxes, including the unfeeling capitalist father, bomb drills, flower children, and even a bright VW Bug. But somehow in the midst of all the historical details, the main story--of the power of Shakespeare and a quirky bond between a student and his teacher--gets lost in the shuffle. Holling's family are completely two-dimensional stereotypes. And there are some beautiful lines spread throughout, but they just end up highlighting how uninspired a lot of the other prose is. Mrs. Baker is the best character, and the last chapter of the book is by far the high point. I can't help but compare this to the Al Capone Does My Shirts books, because the kids and I just read through those this spring. In those, the historical setting feels so natural and real, the 13 year old boy's POV is sympathetic and interesting, and every character on the island is vivid and alive. By comparison, this book feels like a school assignment. It's not horrible, and I'll let the kids read it next year when we do the twentieth century in history, but it's definitely not one I'll buy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    When someone who tends to make good recommendations to you tells you several times that you will probably love something–listen. I finally picked up Gary D. Schmidt and The Wednesday Wars on audio, and I adored it. From first sentence to last, this book was so full and rich and true in every way. I laughed in a way I haven’t laughed listening to audio in well over a year, and I cried. I cried because it was too touching and real and perfect not to. Never before have I read a book that more exempl When someone who tends to make good recommendations to you tells you several times that you will probably love something–listen. I finally picked up Gary D. Schmidt and The Wednesday Wars on audio, and I adored it. From first sentence to last, this book was so full and rich and true in every way. I laughed in a way I haven’t laughed listening to audio in well over a year, and I cried. I cried because it was too touching and real and perfect not to. Never before have I read a book that more exemplified the home where I live now–Long Island, New York, despite the reality that it shows a very different island than you see today. Being a (seemingly) lone protestant in a predominantly Catholic and Jewish population can be every bit as awkward as Holling would have you think. Luckily, I never had a 7th grade English teacher with a vendetta against me because of it. I loved the mentions of Eisenhower Park, Jones Beach, and other locals I’m so familiar with. A historical tour of the area made me want to explore my local history more, and spend more time exploring outside of New York City (in fact, since finishing I have visited a nearby historical township just because). At it’s heart, The Wednesday Wars is sort of a slightly-older, slightly more-recent, less Midwest version of A Christmas Story. And coming from me, there can’t really be a higher compliment to a kid’s story. Holling Hoodhood’s experiences and emotions vacillate from elated to horrified in that same way, with these everyday occurrences becoming the most ridiculous and monumental, and I loved it. Gary D. Schmidt captures the atmosphere of the time so perfectly that as a listener I was transported to the 1960s, breath catching at news of Vietnam, Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., and certainly sympathizing with Holling’s sister who so clearly wanted more from life than what was being offered her. But as it is set in its time, The Wednesday Wars also transcends time in our ability to relate so personally. We have all, at least I dearly hope, had that one teacher who will change our lives forever. For Holling Hoodhood, it is Mrs. Baker. And I’m pretty sure that Holling Hoodhood will be that one student that changes Mrs. Baker forever as well. Though their relationship begins tenuously, their warfull Wednesdays soon transform into something more–into a kind of mentorship and love affair with William Shakespeare, and a challenge to be met gladly. This is the book that will make many kids want to pick up that famed playwright, and those of us who have long loved him to look back and smile. And just perhaps we’ll all start calling one another “pied ninny”s instead of “mother _____”s. The Wednesday Wars is one of those unassuming little books that manages to pack so much real emotion and true human connection into its parts that I am left baffled. There is the experience of friendship and first love, of bullies and killing one’s heroes, of triumph and defeat. Oh, and some pretty epic rats. Holling Hoodhood’s family dynamics smacked so much of the time. His father may be one of the worst fathers I’ve read about in terms of selfishness and neglect, despite the non-abusive nature of his existence. His sister was one of the most intriguing side characters I’ve come across for some time–I couldn’t help but thinking I’d love to read her story as well. I know it would be entirely different from Holling’s, but that it wouldn’t be any less full of emotion or meaning. There couldn’t have been a more perfect narrator for The Wednesday Wars on audio than Joel Johnstone. I’ve personally only listened to his narration once before (in Thirteen Reasons Why, where it was also stunning), but he’s quickly becoming one of those narrators to seek out. In this case, I definitely feel as if the story was enhanced by its format, and really recommend this one on audio for those of you who enjoy listening. Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I learned two new ways to cuss this month. First, my sister Aimee told me that in the Fantastic Mr. Fox movie instead of cussing they say, "What the cuss!" Love it! Next, Holling Hoodhood the 7th grade narrator of this delightful book learns all about the best kind of cussing by reading, Shakespeare's "The Tempest." He says,"Caliban-the monster in the play-he knew cuss words. Even Doug Swieteck's brother couldn't cuss like that-and he could cuss the yellow off a school bus." There are great scen I learned two new ways to cuss this month. First, my sister Aimee told me that in the Fantastic Mr. Fox movie instead of cussing they say, "What the cuss!" Love it! Next, Holling Hoodhood the 7th grade narrator of this delightful book learns all about the best kind of cussing by reading, Shakespeare's "The Tempest." He says,"Caliban-the monster in the play-he knew cuss words. Even Doug Swieteck's brother couldn't cuss like that-and he could cuss the yellow off a school bus." There are great scenes of Holling practicing these Caliban curses behind closed doors. Holling has me cussing,"Toads, beetles, bats," left and right. Especially when my kids delete my first review of this book to play Nick Jr. "Toads, beetles, bats," I can't remember everything I said the first time. This book is well deserving of the Newbery Honor it received. Holling is the lone Presbyterian stuck at school with his teacher Mrs. Baker (who hates his guts) every Wednesday while half the class heads off to Hebrew school and the other half to Catechism. This book is very reminiscent of, "The Wonder Years." I kept expecting Kevin and Winnie to pop up on the next page. I loved watching the relationship between Holling and Mrs. Baker unfold throughout the year on Wednesday afternoons and beyond. Holling also has a sister in High school and the scenes between the two of them are touching and magical. This book will definitely have you giggling and tearing up constantly. A great book to recommend to your kids or read with them. Thanks to Doug for recommending this wonderful book! Spoiler Alert** I have to include this passage because I checked this out from the library. I want to be able to visit this passage of beautiful writing from time to time: "Think of the sound you make when you let go after holding your breath for a very, very long time. Think of the gladdest sound you know: the sound of dawn of the first day of spring break, the sound of a bottle of Coke opening, the sound of a crowd cheering in your ears because you're coming down to the last part of a race-and you're ahead. Think of the sound of water over stones in a cold stream, and the sound of wind through green trees on a late May afternoon in Central Park. Think of the sound of a bus coming into the station carrying someone you love. Then put all those together. And they would be nothing compared to the sound that Mrs. Baker made that day from somewhere deep inside that had almost given up, when she heard the first line of that telegram. The she started to hiccup, and to cry, and to laugh..." I'm Crying all over again!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Really charming. It was the same kind of nostalgic book as Penny From Heaven, but better-written, funnier, and more real-feeling. (This one has its obvious parallel in a really good episode of The Wonder Years.) This reminded me of older books about boys coming of age, like It's Like This, Cat and Onion John; but I think the language is wholly modern and accessible. I thought it was so much better--tighter, I guess--than Trouble. Also, a question: looking at the other reviews, and thinking of rev Really charming. It was the same kind of nostalgic book as Penny From Heaven, but better-written, funnier, and more real-feeling. (This one has its obvious parallel in a really good episode of The Wonder Years.) This reminded me of older books about boys coming of age, like It's Like This, Cat and Onion John; but I think the language is wholly modern and accessible. I thought it was so much better--tighter, I guess--than Trouble. Also, a question: looking at the other reviews, and thinking of reviews of other books I've read recently--WHY do so many adults seem to think kids can't enjoy historical fiction unless A. they're already familiar with all cultural references in the book, or B. all cultural references and implications are spelled out in words of one syllable, or, failing that, in an author's note or glossary? Teachers, librarians, parents, is this something you've observed? It seems like an unqualified assumption to me. Even though I'm of a different generation from today's kids, I'm not really that old, and none of that ever bothered me. For one thing, I learned a ton of history from books I read for pleasure, and for another, if I didn't understand something I skimmed over it or occasionally asked my mother what it meant. No. big. deal. I don't like to be all "Well, *I* grew up just fine" about this, but it's still hard for me to imagine that kids now are THAT much different from when I was a kid--especially kids who like to read. I would think that there were some kids who hated historical fiction then and there are some who hate it now. Yes? No? ETA: Huh. I just remembered that I made sort of the opposite argument a few months ago, about Noel Streatfeild's books having too many cultural references that kids wouldn't get. Clearly there's some kind of line I want to draw; it has something to do with how easy the book is to understand with or without cultural references, and is related to the way some old books make good quasi-historical-fiction, and others are just dated. But I'd hold that it's irrelevant as regards actual historical fiction. If kids don't "get it", it's about the writing, not the topic. Some reviews here seem to be claiming that because kids don't know who RFK was, books shouldn't mention RFK.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kricket

    This is a beautiful book, so I reviewed it for our librarian blog at work. Holling Hoodhood has many things on his mind. The U.S. is at war with Vietnam. His older sister has painted a flower on her face. His father is trying to run the town’s other architect out of business. And Holling’s teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. You see, every Wednesday after lunch, half of the kids in Holling’s 7th grade class go to the Temple Beth-El for Hebrew School. The other half goes to St. Adelbert’s for Cat This is a beautiful book, so I reviewed it for our librarian blog at work. Holling Hoodhood has many things on his mind. The U.S. is at war with Vietnam. His older sister has painted a flower on her face. His father is trying to run the town’s other architect out of business. And Holling’s teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. You see, every Wednesday after lunch, half of the kids in Holling’s 7th grade class go to the Temple Beth-El for Hebrew School. The other half goes to St. Adelbert’s for Catechism. Holling, the lone Presbyterian, is the only student keeping Mrs. Baker from an afternoon to herself. To avenge her privacy, Mrs. Baker decides to bore Holling to death by reading Shakespeare with him, but the joke’s on her- Holling actually likes Shakespeare! It may help him secure the heart of Meryl Lee Kowalski, get Doug Swieteck’s older brother off his back, and run faster with the cross country team. Or, it may help him right into a pair of yellow tights with feathers on the behind. But maybe, just maybe, it will help him tell his father how he feels. This laugh-out-loud novel from Gary Schmidt (author of Newbery Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy) will reel in readers with Holling’s wry yet innocent narration. Schmidt, a professor of English, grew up in Long Island just like Holling. He now resides near Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he taught me how to write, among other things, book reviews.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Mead

    When a teacher makes you read Shakespeare outside of school, you know she hates you. Throw in some cream puffs and a couple of demented rats, and, well, you have the beginning of a very interesting school year. Plus there’s a war going on that is making things rather complicated. So Holling Hoodhood isn’t exactly looking forward to the upcoming year. The Wednesday Wars is a highly amusing coming-of-age story that manages to teach some good lessens in between the laughs. I found it really interes When a teacher makes you read Shakespeare outside of school, you know she hates you. Throw in some cream puffs and a couple of demented rats, and, well, you have the beginning of a very interesting school year. Plus there’s a war going on that is making things rather complicated. So Holling Hoodhood isn’t exactly looking forward to the upcoming year. The Wednesday Wars is a highly amusing coming-of-age story that manages to teach some good lessens in between the laughs. I found it really interesting to learn about how the different people in the US reacted to the Vietnam War. I didn’t know much about the War before this, so this book was pretty valuable in broadening my knowledge concerning the war. I also highly appreciated the part that Shakespeare had to play throughout the story – I’m somewhat of a Shakespeare lover, so I loved seeing Holling interact with plays that I have read in the past! Overall, I really enjoyed this book – it is light hearted and hilarious, but it also deals with some pretty deep things like war and growing up. I’m giving this book 5* out of 5 and recommending it for ages 12+

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    In the year of 1967, Holling HoodHood is entering the seventh grade and notices that his English teacher Mrs. Baker hates him. She tries her best to make his life miserable, but with his Dad's Architect firm HoodHood and Associates vying to get the contract for her family's Sporting goods store, all Holling can do is grin and bear it even when she tortures him with Shakespeare. Will he survive? Read on and find out for yourself. This was a pretty good audiobook that I borrowed from my local libra In the year of 1967, Holling HoodHood is entering the seventh grade and notices that his English teacher Mrs. Baker hates him. She tries her best to make his life miserable, but with his Dad's Architect firm HoodHood and Associates vying to get the contract for her family's Sporting goods store, all Holling can do is grin and bear it even when she tortures him with Shakespeare. Will he survive? Read on and find out for yourself. This was a pretty good audiobook that I borrowed from my local library that my mom and I enjoyed. This book made us laugh a lot. Be sure to check this out. It is available at your local library and wherever books are sold.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Osgood

    2018 Update: Read it out loud with the family. The walls echo with cries of "Toads, beetles, bats" and "Dang wimpy slugs!" Delightful. The title, and the list of 410 things, set me up to expect a battle of pranks. Instead, this funny book reaches deeper, as Holling serendipitously finds himself in various bad and good (and always awkward) situations, and applies Shakespeare to solve them. Maybe someone needs to make his parents read Shakespeare, too. Amusing and touching, I really enjoyed this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynette

    Man I loved this book. It was just light and fun and funny and nostalgic of childhood. But then it snuck in some great themes and deep thoughts. As a teacher it helped me realize that my students are more capable of considering deep and complex emotions and ideas than I think they are sometimes. This is the perfect summer book if you want something light but still substantial.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm not sure it's possible for me to love this book more. It proved me wrong and made me cry. Best coming of age story I've read in a loooong time.

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