The Wednesday Wars

September is the perfect time to pick up THE WEDNESDAY WARS, Gary Schmidt‘s book about a kid and the Shakespeare-obsessed teacher who hates his guts.

Holling Hoodhood, besides being the possessor of the world’s most ridiculous name, is the only Presbyterian in his class at a Long Island junior high school in 1967.  That means that every Wednesday, when the other students head off to Hebrew school or Catechism, Holling is left behind to do battle with his teacher, Mrs. Baker.  After some misadventures involving two dozen cream puffs and a ton of chalk dust, Mrs. Baker decides to make Holling miserable by forcing him to read Shakespeare.  But her evil plot is foiled when Holling discovers just how exciting Shakespeare’s plays are.

The Vietnam War rages in the background, but it’s not the central focus of Holling’s story.  He lives his life the way any teenager would in 1967 – or 2010 – with a war going on: he’s aware of it, and every so often its violence and tragedy hit too close to home, but he also has his own problems.

Holling tells his story in a funny, tongue-in-cheek voice that feels like chatting with a friend, and his spectacular stage debut as Ariel in The Tempest made me want to go pick up the play.  This is the perfect relaxing read for the start of another school year.  –Dana Chidiac

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~ by Dana on September 8, 2010.

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