Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

September 28, 2007

The Wednesday Wars

By Gary D. Schmidt
Era: 1967-1968, Long Island
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In this thoroughly enjoyable and funny piece of historical fiction, Holling Hoodhood is the son of a prominent local architect in a small Long Island town. He is also the only Presbyterian in 7th grade. On Wednesday afternoons, the rest of the class disperse to either church or temple for religious instruction, but not Holling. Because of this, Holling is convinced Mrs. Baker, his teacher, hates him and is plotting against him. In fact, he seems to be bullied by just about everyone in 7th grade, as well as by his father, who plans for Holling to take over his company. But as the year progresses, Mrs. Baker and Holling come to an understanding, reached through the medium of reading and discussing Shakespeare's plays. Holling begins to see there is more to both Mrs. Baker and himself than he ever dreamed. Readers will laugh out loud during this story as Holling accidentally gets chalk dust on the cream puffs made for a fundraiser, learns to swear like Shakespeare ("Toads, beetles, bats!"), and outruns the huge escaped rats Sycorax and Caliban to earn a place on the cross-country team. The shadows of the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy loom and intertwine with the characters during the eventful year. Schmidt's last book, the Newbery Honor-winning Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, was quite serious, but this story will tickle your funny bone, make you cry, and make you cheer for Holling Hoodhood.