Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

I gave this book a rating of four out of five. The main character, Holling Hoodhood, is in the seventh grade and seems to have a conflict with his teacher. Every Wednesday afternoon in this school the Jewish students travel to the synagogue and the Catholic students travel to their church. Holling is Presbyterian, so he is forced to spend every Wednesday afternoon with Mrs. Baker, his language arts teacher. She makes Holling do all kinds of chores and extra work, but she finally makes him start reading Shakespeare. Holling feels this is a real punishment, but he's an avid reader and gives it a shot. He ends up enjoying Shakespeare and has many conversations with Mrs. Baker about the meanings within the stories. He's able to offer modern insights into the stories, with Mrs. Baker's help, and is able to make connections to his own life.

The main conflict in the novel is Holling's battle to discover himself and his place in the world. Sounds pretty serious, but the author does a nice job of balancing that with some humor and interesting situations. How about the on-going idea of the two classroom rats being on the loose above the ceiling tiles? You know something will happen with them eventually. To be honest, the beginning of the book wasn't grabbing me, but it became much more interesting once I gave it a chance. I enjoyed the characters and all of the issues addressed from the late 1960's. The Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, communism and the Cold War, flower children, and the New York Yankees are just a few of the topics that arise in the plot. In addition, Holling must deal with typical middle school issues such as dealing with teachers, a possible girlfriend, wacky classmates, hazing by eighth graders, and an overly-demanding father. His father may be the biggest obstacle in his life. The references to Shakespeare may not appeal to some readers, but the author spaces them throughout the plot so they don't become overwhelming.

Lexile level from lexile.com 990


  1. This book was such a period piece that I didn't think it would appeal to the students. You'll have to let me know if you think I should buy it.

  2. I shared your comments with my kids, and they loved the book. They think you should buy it.

  3. mr.buxton what is the character like in the beginning please use character traits . in character i mean holling hoodhood .thnx

  4. I haven't read the book in three years so... I think he was a conscientious student and a good kid. I remember thinking that I'd feel strange if all of my classmates went to religion class, and I didn't. It never seemed to bother Holling, and he ended up getting along with the teacher.


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