Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: The Wednesday Wars

Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary D. Schmidt

From Shelfari, "Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero in THE WEDNESDAY WARS—a wonderfully witty and compelling novel about a teenage boy's mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn't like Holling—he's sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself."

     I bought this book as an audiobook and listened to it on a long car ride.   I think the reason I liked this book so much was because of the wonderful job narrator, Joel Johnstone, does in making Holling's story come to life.  He does an amazing job of vocally illustrating Gary D. Schmidt's wonderful writing.  

     This book was a 2008 Newbery Medal contender, but got beat out by Good Master! Sweet Ladies! to the chagrin of some librarians, teachers, and students.  

     I liked how the book was divided into chapters by months of the year following Holling's school calendar.  It immediately set the tone that the story was in the perspective of a student and his dealings with a teacher.  I think most people can identify with Holling's dilemma of having a teacher who he thinks "hates his guts." The story was like a walk through history and for me, brought back memories of pounding erasers, coats in the cloak room, and the like.  Although today's kids might not understand some of the references in the book, they will understand the other things that never seem to change regardless of how much time passes-fitting in, bullies, and crushes.  This is a well-written book, with wonderful references, good humor, and a dose of sarcasm.  It is worth the time it takes to read.

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