Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Wednesday Wars

Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books 2007

Holling Hoodhood is sure his seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts.

And that was before he accidentally wrecked the cream puffs, and before he accidentally let loose her pet rats, and before he started spouting curses from his Shakespeare reading (that was on purpose).

Repairing his relationship with Mrs. Baker is important. Mrs. Baker's family owns a sporting goods store, and Holling's father is hoping to get the architectural contract for their new building. As The Son Who Is Going to Inherit Hoodhood and Associates, Holling had better shape up and do whatever it takes to get on Mrs. Baker's good side, even if it means playing a dorky fairy in the community production of "The Tempest."

Set over forty years ago against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, The Wednesday Wars is the hilarious story of a boy trying to navigate the rocky shoals of seventh grade. Holling's voice has an air of tall-tale telling that kept me laughing. But the book isn't all comedy. Holling's evolving relationships with the people around him reveal some poignant insights on friendship, on racism, and on what it means to be a hero.

One of the best books I've read in a long time. I recommend The Wednesday Wars for ages eleven and up.