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Review: The Wednesday Wars

March 20, 2010

Poor Holling Hoodhood.  He lives in the perfect house, but everything his father does is based on what’s best for his architectural firm.   He’s in the seventh grade, and his teacher, Mrs. Baker hates him.   On Wednesday afternoons, the Jewish kids in his class go to Hebrew school and the Catholic kids go to Catechism, leaving Holling, the lone Presbyterian, all by himself, and his teacher is making him read Shakespeare.  Holling has to figure out how to navigate the seventh grade, stay out of trouble with his teacher and the other kids, and keep his dad happy.  Sometimes it just seems like too much for one kid to handle.

Last year, I listened to Lizzy Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt and just loved it, so when I saw Tricia’s review of The Wednesday Wars by the same author, I knew I had to read it.  I absolutely loved this book and feel certain that I can’t do it justice.  There is so much going on in it, yet it works beautifully.  The book touches on family, art, the Vietnam War, a budding young romance, responsibility, history and so much more.  Since it’s told from a seventh grader’s perspective it made me remember what it felt like to be young.

The characters in this book are fantastic.  I especially adored Holling and Mrs. Baker.  Holling really wants to please everyone, but he wants to fit in with his classmates too.  He is earnest and observant and I just wanted to give him a squeeze.  Mrs. Baker is the type of teacher every parent hopes their child will get – tough, but compassionate and caring.  Each chapter is a month in the school year and follows what’s going on in the classroom, in Holling’s home and in the world.  Holling is trying to figure out how he fits in all three places, so it’s really a coming of age story too.

The Wednesday Wars takes place during the 1967-68 school year, so I could relate to so much of what was going on – the nuclear drills, the Vietnam War, the Monkees, just to name a few.   It’s a Newbery Honor Book written for young adults and I do wonder if they could relate to the time period as well as I did.

I’m really having trouble expressing my thoughts about this book, but I loved it.  I laughed a lot as I read the book and just sobbed at the end.  Since I loved both The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, I want to read more of Gary D. Schmidt’s work.  Have you read any of his other books?  Which ones do you recommend?

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 6:15 am

    Wow. I so want to read this one. I will go hunt for this author’s book here, I have not read him at all.

    I am sure it will be interesting to read the settings of schools in that time period. Not read anything like it at all.

    Thank you for a great review!

  2. March 20, 2010 7:06 am

    Wow! I was in eighth grade in 67-68 so I bet I could totally relate! I love Lizzy Bright (as you know) and now I’ll have to look for Wednesday Wars. I hope I can find it on audio at the library. Thanks for recommending another winner.

  3. March 20, 2010 7:49 am

    This book hardly ever gets checked out from my middle school library. Thanks for the great thoughts on this one and I may have to read this during the RAT this year…I like to be able to recommend from a personal reading experience to my students!!

  4. March 20, 2010 7:52 am

    I just know I’d love this book and have the same reaction that you did!

  5. March 20, 2010 8:25 am

    This is the only Gary Schmidt book I’ve read so far, and I loved it as well. I need to get to his other books soon!

  6. March 20, 2010 9:20 am

    This sounds like a book I really would have loved at that age. Great, thoughtful review!

    -Connie @ Constance Reader

  7. March 20, 2010 9:44 am

    This sounds great. I have found one can always count on books that win recognition from Newbery to be very good.

  8. March 20, 2010 10:19 am

    My son’s a little young for this one (he’s 10 and in 5th grade), but since he’s turning out to be an avid reader like his mom, I may put this one on a list of books for him to check out. Thanks for the review!

  9. March 20, 2010 10:29 am

    This book totally sounds awesome to me! I gotto read this one!! Nice review.

  10. March 20, 2010 10:52 am

    This book sounds like a must read. I’ll be looking out for this one.

  11. March 20, 2010 11:13 am

    This sounds like a great book to read and share with my seventh-grader. Thanks for the recommendation.

  12. March 20, 2010 11:40 am

    I am totally sold out on this book because of what you wrote here! 🙂 This may be a trip to the book store yet this afternoon.

  13. March 20, 2010 11:41 am

    Hi!
    Sounds like a great book. I’ll have to check this one out. I love reading kids books. Have a great day!

    Sherrie
    Just Books

  14. March 20, 2010 12:06 pm

    I haven’t read anything by Gary Schmidt, but I’m on THE WEDNESDAY WARS after your review! I’m signed up for the Vietnam challenge; this will make nice addition to my (yet to be read) list.

  15. March 20, 2010 12:07 pm

    This sounds like such a wonderful read! I bet that it would strike the right chord with both myself and my daughter, and I will have to search it out! I loved this review! I can see that you really had a wonderful time with this book!

  16. March 20, 2010 5:15 pm

    I read that one last year and really enjoyed it. I need to remember to read more of that author’s books. Lizzy Bright sounds great too!

  17. March 20, 2010 5:28 pm

    It made me laugh that having to read Shakespeare is one of the tragedies in his life 😛

    A coming of age story with strong characterisation – definitely sounds like something I’d like.

  18. March 20, 2010 6:55 pm

    This review plus Gary Schmidt’s wonderful commentary at School Library Journal’s battle of the kids’ books is really moving his books higher on my TBR pile.

  19. March 20, 2010 7:17 pm

    I cant’ wait to read this one…. I love the nostalgia feel your words give it.

  20. March 20, 2010 8:42 pm

    Sounds like a great story. The era’s a little before my time, but I know my daughter for one enjoys reading about “the old days.”

  21. March 20, 2010 9:52 pm

    “his teacher is making him read Shakespeare.”

    I think he got the good end of the deal!

  22. March 21, 2010 1:25 am

    This books sounds wonderful. I could completely relate to the 1967-68 school year!

  23. March 21, 2010 2:02 am

    I agree this one sounds excellent. I thought you expressed your thoughts very well – well enough for me to want to read it.

  24. March 21, 2010 2:47 am

    This sounds like an excellent children’s book! Thank you for the review, Kathy!

  25. March 21, 2010 1:34 pm

    I’ve never read either but they sound like both are worth reading. I enjoy children’s books once in a while although I was just a year old in 67 so I wouldn’t necessarily relate as well. I’m glad you liked it so much Kathy.

  26. March 22, 2010 10:55 am

    Sounds like an interesting book. Do you think it should be counted for the Vietnam War reading challenge?

  27. March 22, 2010 1:41 pm

    I think you expressed yourself quite well. So well, that I’m adding this to my to-read list!

  28. March 23, 2010 4:58 pm

    Sounds really good, thanks for reviewing it. I’m off to add it to my wish list.

  29. March 23, 2010 6:01 pm

    I liked this one, too. I have a copy of Trouble on my shelf, but I have not yet read it.

  30. March 24, 2010 5:58 pm

    I loved it too, but still haven’t picked up another.

  31. March 31, 2010 7:53 pm

    I thought this book was perfect! This makes me want to read it again. I have also read Lizzie Bright, but none of his others. The next one I plan to read is Trouble.

  32. April 3, 2010 11:45 pm

    I’m so glad you loved this one. Thank you so much for linking to my review. Now I need to read Lizzie Bright based on your recommendation. I can’t wait!

  33. April 25, 2010 7:24 pm

    I’ve added your review to the war through the generations book review page and your review will post on april 29.

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