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The Wednesday Wars

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In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York.

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.

264 pages, Hardcover

First published May 21, 2007

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About the author

Gary D. Schmidt

75 books1,676 followers
Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,832 reviews
Profile Image for Lucy .
343 reviews34 followers
July 20, 2009
Holling Hoodhood’s got a problem. It’s 1967, and he’s just started seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, and his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Every Wednesday afternoon, half of the kids in Holling’s class go to Hebrew school and the other half go to St. Adelbert’s for catechism. And Holling, as the only Presbyterian in the class, stays behind with Mrs. Baker.

And Mrs. Baker makes him read Shakespeare. Outside of class.

What follows is a year in Holling’s life, a year of Wednesdays with Mrs. Baker and life in general. It’s 1967, and his sister wants to be a flower child, and his father owns the architecture firm Hoodhood and Associates and sees Holling as The Son Who Will Inherit Hoodhood and Associates. There are rats, and cream puffs, and Doug Swieteck’s brother. There are telegrams and baseballs and tights (with feathers!) and atomic bomb drills.

This is a quiet book that gets you in all the right places. If I had to sum it up in a phrase, I’d say it was about how people surprise you—sometimes in bad ways, and more often in very good ways. It’s about heroes—the ones you create for yourself, and the ones that you discover. It’s about finding your way when the world is confusing. It’s about being in seventh grade, and learning that it’s not who you are that matters, but who you decide to be.

This book made me laugh out loud on the subway, those big belly laughs that make strangers think you’re crazy. It also made me cry, no less that four times. This is not a book with great tragedy, but it is a book with great power. It’s a book that made me feel.

I read it slowly, reading and rereading each line and word, savoring the chapters. But I didn’t horde it, didn’t put it down and save it for later, because I could. not. stop. reading.

I just couldn’t. It wasn’t so much that I needed to know what happened—it was more that I desperately wanted to hear Holling’s voice in my head some more. I wanted more afternoons with Mrs. Baker.

This is the kind of book that you read and reread, and then read bits aloud to the people you care about, because you want to share it with them. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like you really, really know the characters, like what happens to them is important to you.

It’s the kind of book that makes you want to read Shakespeare, and more importantly, to curse like Caliban.

It’s really one of the best reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. I urge you to read it. I want to talk about the Mickey Mantle episode with you. I want to hear what you think about cream puffs. And I want you to know what I mean when I say, “toads, beetles, bats.” Or “chrysanthemum.”

Mostly, I want you to meet Holling Hoodhood and Mrs. Baker, two of my new favorite literary creations. I want them to be part of your life the way they’ve been part of mine since I started this book. I really think you’ll like them a lot.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
July 2, 2018
Audiobook rating: ★★★★★
Book rating: ★★★★★

“J U S T   S W E L L”

Oh I am so going to miss you ‘let me tell you’ about your life to me, Holling!!

“I never thought being in seven grade would mean so many death threats”

Written so convincingly youthful and full of hearts and humor.

Holling Hoodhood’s journey into seven grade is peppered with misadventures, extremely good luck, self discovery and even Shakespeare. So hilarious and sarcastic and really heartfelt.

► I listened to the audiobook and oh my lord, I could not stop! Love the narrator’s voice too much: he has this boyish/teenage voice and his performance is pitch perfect: awkward and sarcastic.

Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 16, 2020
this is my second book for the readventurer challenge.

this book is very...sweet. and ordinarily, a sweet book would make me feel like i had chiggers or something else foul crawling under my skin, and its earnest gee-whizzery would make me feel unclean just because of my mental rolodex of words that are more satisfying to say in moments of astonishment or crisis than "gee whiz."

but this one was different. this one was entirely wholesome, yeah, but wholesome and satisfying like fresh-baked bread, and i didn't want to roll my eyes at all.

this book is many things, but for me, the best part is the inspirational-teacher aspect of it. i loved the way holling's character changed under mrs. baker's ministrations; how his worldview expanded through shakespeare as he was able to find parallels between the stories of shakespeare and the trials facing him in his own life. he went from a boy who was scared of his teacher and believed everyone was against him to a confident, articulate boy who found the strength to stand up to his father, fight injustice, and face his fears.

my only complaint is that there isn't much in the way of dramatic tension. you learn pretty early on that any time something negative could happen, it is like there is a teflon bubble of groovy sixties optimism that just protects him from bad times. and this despite the backdrop of the vietnam war. but it is middle grade, and who wants to make a ten-year-old cry, right? but- yeah - it is pretty forrest gumpy, down to the running and everything. but it means well, and it is a sweet story that i am glad i read.

i will make this review make more sense later - right now my brain is completely melted.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Karina.
818 reviews
March 8, 2022
"No, he can't win. But sometimes I wonder if perhaps Shakespeare might have let something happen that would at least have allowed a happy ending even for a monster- some way for him to grow beyond what Prospero thought of him. There is a part of us that can be so awful. And Shakespeare shows it to us in Caliban. But there's another part of us, too- a part that uses defeat to grow." (PG. 70)

Newbery Honor Book- 2007

Set in the year 1967, this is a coming of age book for Holling Hoodhood in the 7th grade in Long Island. The chapters are the months in his life so we get to see that happens to him, mostly in school, and how his character grows. Wednesday's start out as his most dreaded day as he is stuck in school with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. As the only Presbyterian in the whole of the junior high, he has nowhere to go on Wednesday's as his classmates file out onto school buses to go to their Catholic church or synagogue for the rest of the half day.

Hoodhood thinks Mrs. Baker hates him because of his religion but they form such a wonderful bond while she teaches him some Shakespeare. Lots of laughs and sadness throughout this novel.
Vietnam is in the background affecting their lives at this point. His parents are also typical of that generation. No emotions just expectations. (I can relate)

Beautiful dedication to your most beloved teacher. It is a story of friendships and growing. The author did a wonderful job in creating this seventh grader's voice. I can really believe the narrator is a 14 year-old boy, which hasn't been believable in many novels recently.
Profile Image for Hal Johnson.
Author 7 books134 followers
September 19, 2013
There’s something very pleasant about kids’ books written in the ’60s. They have an assurance that books written in later, more apologetic and hesitant decades lack. They’re usually untroubled by the social upheaval all around them. Hippies may show up here or there, but the books are more likely to be about time travel, or inventions, or mysteries.

This is one of the things you can only learn from consuming texts from that era: that people who lived in the ’60s didn’t know they were living in the ’60s. Watch Blow-Up for the scene in which a character (in a film that features the Yardbirds) invites a girl back to his swinging pad and plays on the hifi elevator jazz. Don’t you know what decade you’re in? you want to scream at him. Play the Yardbirds, you idiot! But he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know.

Much less pleasant are contemporary kids’ books that take place in the ’60s. All of a sudden the author (a baby boomer, no doubt) realizes he’s writing about the most significant decade since the end of the Roman republic, and he can hardly stop his giggling. Assurance becomes smugness. The book becomes a checklist. Kennedys? Check. Vietnam? Check. Air-raid drills? Flower children? Political assassinations? Civil rights? The generation gap? Student unrest? Rock and roll? Check, check them all!

Wednesday Wars checks them all off, dutifully, and unimaginatively. It’s more or less a sitcom otherwise, with sitcom situations that are sometimes amusing and usually just chaotic and trite. The mary-sue narrator gets to At this point, Stanley Fish’s reader-response meter moved to vomit.

Is the author an English teacher and a child of the ’60s? By gum, says wikipedia, he is!

Profile Image for Greg.
1,109 reviews1,843 followers
June 24, 2010
A Review in Two Parts

Part One
Ariel, recommended this book to me, and she wrote a fine good review of the book. You can find it by clicking on her name.

I really liked the book, but didn't love it. I think the things I didn't love about the book were me being a crank. For example, the myopic narrator view point of a seventh grader was great; it caught the distortions that a kid sees the world through and the way teachers and others outside of their own circle are depersonalized into roles instead of people. Without being preachy, though. But, then I would not like the Wally and Beaver golly-gee attitude that would at times sneak into the book. Sometimes it worked for good comic effect but it seemed too pure and innocent for me. Another part that I'm not quite sure how I feel is the Forest Gump path the story veers off into sometimes. But maybe if Tom Hanks hadn't starred in the movie I wouldn't be annoyed by anything that reminds me of the movie.

On the plus side, I really like the month of May in the book (each chapter is a month in the school year). I was a little afraid of what May may bring when I was reading the book, you know since it would be May 1968, probably the most tragic month of the second half of the 20th century. I'm not interested in going into detail and talking late story plot developments or anything, so I'll just leave it that the author does a great job capturing a certain pathos by this point in the novel that originally had only been a suburban comedic effect.

If I was a teacher of young adults and I had them read this book, I'd probably test them by asking them this question: "Tragedy or Comedy? Why? Explain and Defend".

Part Two
(If you are averse to potty mouth language please go away, I'm about to rant it up. You've been warned. Now go away if you don't like dirty words. Seriously. Go Away)

Anyway, thank you for sticking around. This part is called Wednesday Wars as Republican Fantasy , or something like that.

The basic premise of this book is that there is this one WASP kid in a Long Island class surrounded by Papists taking orders from the Vatican (and thus only a step better than Communists, but never to be trusted as real Americans) and Jews (those greedy fucks who run the banks., ie., the ones who figure a way to swindle the poor upper middle class white Protestant males money from him through usury, liberal politics, socialism and ultimately Communism). This paragon of WHITE AMERICA is (gasp!) a MINORITY in this own home, and further more sees that the people in power (his teacher) irrationally hates him! (Just like Big Government (i.e., Liberals, Democrats, (see Jews!) hate the SILENT MAJORITY- which is not mentioned in the book, but which would be used as a rallying slogan by Nixon in the 1968 elections)). See the character in this book as RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN AMERICA circa, well whenever, but today is good. When they are a MAJORITY but for some reason see themselves as a persecuted MINORITY, and they are angry, ANGRY, ANGRY!!!!! that anyone else gets any of the pie besides them, and that if people aren't on their hands and knees sucking their dicks then they are only trying to steal their money and take things away from them (see THOSE FUCKING GAYS WITH THEIR WANTING TO GET MARRIED!!!! HOW DARE THEY!!!!!!).

This might sound like fiction, but sadly it's not. A 13 year old has the right to seeing the world in a distorted manner or persecution. A nation of adults seeing the world in the same way is sad?, scary?, retarded?, enough to make one (me) want to seriously reconsider democracy and not let those suffering from extreme persecution delusions have a right to vote? All of the above?

This isn't even so much a rant, as a pointing out of another story going on in this book. Sadly, for my theory here, the White, Right and Dumb American story falls apart after a chapter or two. Which goes to show that 13 year olds can grow, but stupid ignorant tea-baggers haven't yet shown that they can.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,025 reviews1,045 followers
November 5, 2020
"The quality of mercy is not strained."

Oh gosh. I loved this book. An enjoyable middle-school historical novel set in Long Island in 1967 during the Vietnam Wars. I haven't read a lot of those and I'm very glad I came across this one. Not only does this one has plenty of LOL moments, it's also the kind of book that'll genuinely make you smile and even make you want to ponder about life. We need more books like this. The cover alone already makes me feel all sorts of warm and light. The rats definitely played a huge role in the story. So hilarious!

"Teachers bring up Shakespeare only to bore students to death. And I was going to be bored to death for eight months. No human being could stand it."

It's actually a little kind of reading a more mature Diary of A Wimpy Kid minus the drawings but Wednesday Wars is a bit more structured in a sense that Holling Hoophoop has one specific hell of a nemesis in the person of his teacher, Mrs. Baker who concocts different ways to torture Holling (being a Presbyterian) every Wednesdays during which he is left alone with his tormentor in the classroom while rest of the students went to church.

"But it turned out that Mrs. Baker's strategy didn't work after all! She had wanted to bore me to death, even though she said that she didn't- which was all part of the strategy. But the Merchant of Venice was okay."

Her "evil plots" however make Holling a Shakespeare fan, enabling him to recite random lines from the plays including curse lines (lol) and even ending up in a holiday play of the Tempest as Ariel the fairy.

"That's the Teacher Gene at work, giving its bearer an extra sense. It's a little frightening. Maybe that's how people decide to become teachers. They have that extra sense, and once they have it, and know they have it, they don't have any choice except to become a teacher."

And as it turned out, the nemesis he painted Mrs. Baker to be isn't really the villain in the story. There's also a subtle message of the evils of war and how it's always the innocent suffering its evil effects. There's Mai Thi, the lone Vietnamese student in school amassing all the ugly things said about "Vietcongs" and all that. There are the wives of the American soldiers in the characters of Mrs. Baker and Mrs Bigio and that scene where Mrs. Bigio said sorry to Mai Thi made me cry a little. Okay, a lot. What a lovely little story.
Profile Image for S.D. Smith.
Author 13 books1,476 followers
November 18, 2020
One of the best books I've ever read. Absolutely brilliant. A nailed-on classic.

Mr. Schmidt, take a bow.

(And thank you.)
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,282 reviews116 followers
December 25, 2010
At first I thought this book was too young for me. The protagonist is a 7th grader, an age I am far past. It was a bit slow at first and my initial conclusion was: This would be great book for a middle school boy, especially one you want to get interested in Shakespeare, but not so great for the general reader.

And then I kept reading and realized that this was a brilliant, touching and funny book. Schmidt is excellent at making believable, nuanced characters--not something I often see at books aimed at preteens. None of the villainous characters are simply one note. The cafeteria lady, for example, loses her son in the Vietnam War and takes it out on the little Vietnamese refugee at the school. But at the same time the cafeteria lady shows true kindness and charity to others. Holling's father is another example. He is demanding, distant, competitive, and often gets angry with his daughter's peacnik attitude. But when Martin Luther King, Jr. (who Holling's father actively dislikes) is assassinated, Holling's father is shocked and upset. Holling himself is more complex than he first appears. He is the same initial everykid (smart but not too smart, physically unimpressive, picked on by his sister and unable to understand some basic social cues) in every book aimed at young boys. But he matures into a young man of such courage and character that I wondered how such a cold father and weak mother could be lucky enough to raise such an amazing kid.

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,398 reviews11.7k followers
July 7, 2010
I think I have come to understand what it takes for a book to be awarded Newbery. It seems these Newberry awarded books are just so wholesome, so full of great life lessons, so sweet and touching in a non-nauseating or preachy way. The Wednesday Wars is just like that.

13-year old Holling Hoodhood is in trouble. While his Jewish and Catholic classmates attend religious studies on Wednesday afternoons, he, the only Presbyterian in his class, is forced to spend this time with his English teacher Mrs. Baker. Holling is absolutely sure Mrs. Baker hates his guts - she makes him clean the classroom and, eventually, read Shakespeare. But as time goes on, both Mrs. Baker and Shakespeare teach Holling how to be a better friend, son, brother, a better person.

The Wednesday Wars is just a sweet coming-of-age story. Holling is an innocent boy who by the end of the story becomes a wiser young man, after going though tribulations of being seen by his classmates wearing yellow tights with feathers on his butt, standing up to his unreasonable father and confronting bullies. The story made me laugh, sigh, and, to my surprise, shed some tears of joy.

The only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5, is that it is a little young for my taste, definitely written for middle-grade kids. But otherwise, it is a perfectly enjoyable story.
Profile Image for Scott.
38 reviews3 followers
December 5, 2010
This book is written like a monthly diary of a seventh grade boy named Holling Hoodhood. It's supposed to be realistic fiction set in 1967, but the events are about as believable as his name. I didn't like it. Here's why.

Everybody around Holling is completely insensitive and cold-hearted, including his father, his mother, his sister, his teacher Mrs. Baker, the school principal, his friends and classmates, Doug Sweiteck's brother, and Micky Mantle. Holling is a complete victim of circumstance. He has the worst of fortune due to everyone's mean spiritedness. And then suddenly and without explanation, his bad luck is completely reversed. Someone just happens to do something extraordinarily nice for him without any apparent reason or motivation. Like when Mrs. Baker, who hates his guts, arranges for some of the Yankees players to come to the school to play catch with him. Yes, him. Or when Kowalski & Associates suddenly backs out of the business contract, leaving Holling's dad to fulfill the contract to build the new junior high school. Or the time Holling wants to buy some cream puffs for his friends so they won't beat him up. He's short a couple of dollars, but the baker just happens to need someone who can play a part in a Shakespeare production, and Holling just happens to be memorizing Shakespeare, so he gets the part, not to mention free cream puffs.

Whether good luck or bad, everything that happens to Holling just happens to him. It just happens to happen to him. It's not a result of any choices that he makes. He's on a roller-coaster of luck, but always, always the victim of circumstance. And let me tell you, that does not make for a good story. Really.

This kind of complete reversal of fortune is an easy way for the writer to get himself out after he's painted himself into a corner. But it's not an easy thing to read. I felt insulted by the lack of sophistication. I expect a more explanation for how things turn around than sheer dumb luck. And I expect the character's actions to have something to do with it.

There is no grander plot. Something terrible and wonderful happens each month. Month after month, beginning with the start of the school year. By March, I had to force myself to finish the book. Toads, beetles, bats.

Except for the Holling and Mrs. Baker, all of the characters seemed faceless, like the adults in Charlie Brown. And none of them made sense. Mrs. Baker has a split personality. Holling's father doesn't care about anything or anyone except his business, and everyone that Holling knows just happens to be connected to his father's business, either as a partner, potential partner, or competitor. We never see another side of dad. Not even a twinge of sympathy. Not even a crack of a smile. His friends Danny and Mai Thi torment him at the beginning of the school year, threatening to beat him up. In the second half of the book, they are nice friends. I guess it was because Holling gave them cream puffs. All the students at school act in unison. They all hate Holling's guts or regard him as a hero for having his picture in the paper again and again. As though none of the students have anything better to do than to care what Holling Hoodhood is up to.

Profile Image for Clif Hostetler.
1,074 reviews711 followers
January 13, 2017
If a junior high aged boy is part of your household, give him this book. He'll love it, and it will do him good. And if you happen to have been in junior high during the year 1968, this book can serve as a reminder of life (and national politics) at that time. In case you don't remember, 1968 is the year that both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

People today worry about the polarization of American politics. Back in the late 60s things were more polarized, and in a much closer to home way at the family level. It seemed as if each American household was polarized with the youth contingent wanting to drop out, grow long hair, and be an anti-Vietnam-war protester and hippie. Meanwhile their parents were going ballistic over how spoiled and degenerate the younger generation was. In this story the junior high boy has a high school aged sister who aspires to be a flower child much to the consternation of her parents.

I was originally attracted to this book because the main character who is a junior high student happens to be attending a school where he is the only student in his class who is not either Jewish or Catholic (his family is Presbyterian). Consequently, when the students leave once per week for released time religious classes, he is the only one left in class. (Do public schools still have released time?) That sounded like an interesting situation to write a story about. At first the teacher was probably just as disappointed as the student of being left together in the class room. But they grew to appreciate each other by the end of the story.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 7 books54.5k followers
January 23, 2013
So good! This book covers middle school drama with humor and wit, with the somber Vietnam War as a backdrop. If you like Konigsburg, you'll love The Wednesday Wars.
Profile Image for Ghazaleh.
159 reviews107 followers
October 10, 2019
کاش همه ما تو طول دوران مدرسه همچین معلم هایی داشتیم!
ولی هروقت فکر میکردیم معلمی از ما بدش میاد،دقیقا درست فکر میکردیم :))
این کتاب برای من یه جورایی دلنشین بود، حس نزدیک بودن به هودهود و خانم بیکر داشتم.
به عنوان کسی که معلمه کودکانه، همیشه دوست دارم چنین کتاب هایی رو بخونم تا درک بیشتری از معلم بودن پیدا کنم. در نتیجه این جزو کتاب هاییه که دوستشون داشتم و با هر دو شخصیت اصلی کتاب ارتباط خوبی گرفتم!
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 8 books5,910 followers
February 8, 2008
One of the best books I have read in a long time. I felt my self reading slower in an attempt to never get to the end.

Mrs. Baker is one of the greatest teacher characters I have met.
Profile Image for Claire.
797 reviews93 followers
February 1, 2008
If I had the option to give 6 stars to The Wednesday Wars, I'd do it. I giggled out loud at least 30 times on the bus *and* the train, earning myself a certain public transit notoriety as That Annoying Lady With The Book. And most people didn't even notice me getting teary during the poignant parts. Of course I'd heard glowing reviews of this book, but I didn't love Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, so I was skeptical. But no longer. Gary Schmidt, please write more!

It's 1967-68, and Holling Hoodhood is the only Presbyterian kid in his seventh-grade class. That means that while half the town is at CCD on Wednesday afternoons and the other half is at Hebrew school, he's stuck in the classroom with his tough-as-nails teacher. First he does small chores, but after a disaster with eraser-cleaning, the teacher sits him down to work his way through Shakespeare. Over the course of the year, he develops a strong relationship with his teacher (and with the Bard's colorful curses). The tumultuous background of 1968 plays heavily in the month-by-month chapters that structure the book.

Here's what I loved: Holling's voice (hilarious), the characters (Danny Hupfer!), how much the reader must infer from Holling's point of view in order to appreciate what's going on. Here's what I'm not so sure of: can young readers really appreciate all that's going on, especially the ways in which Holling is not the most reliable narrator? Do they? I enjoyed The Wednesday Wars more than anything I've read in a while, but I couldn't dismiss the nagging voice that kept noisily insisting that this was really a grown-up book dressed up in kid's clothing. The readers at my school with are too young for this book, but I'm eager to hear from other teachers and librarians how it's received by real live teens and tweens.

In the meantime, you adult readers of kidlit and YA lit - read it! read it!
Profile Image for Christina.
122 reviews
January 2, 2008
Oh it's the season to read the books we adults want children to read, and in actual fact they have no interest in doing so. Wednesday Wars sadly falls into that catagory.
It's 1968, and Holling Hoodhood is stuck with his teacher every Wednesday afternoon when the rest of his class attends religious education classes that their respective places of worship.
Holling learns to love Shakespeare, and how to run a good race, and he learns to understand his teacher, Mrs. Baker, and to love his older sister, who is mildly caught up in the tumult of the era.
Holling was likable, there were humorous parts especially the escaped classroom rats, and he came of age with a few interesting adventures; both bittersweet and funny- Mickey Mantle was a total meathead to poor Holling who at the time rushed from the play he was in and happened to be wearing feathers on his butt playing the fairy, Ariel.
I liked this story, and teachers will like this story, and doubtless put it on summer reading lists and the like. Will the majority of kids like this story? If they are assigned it, some will like it. Is this a book most will pick up and read on their own? Not likely.
Profile Image for Robin Lee Hatcher.
Author 127 books2,719 followers
April 7, 2019
I first read The Wednesday Wars in 2011, and I have never forgotten it (especially the yellow tights and the story that surrounds them). Recently I bought the audiobook so I could read it again. Glad I did. It was just as much a delight the second time through. Toward the end of the book, I drove to a wedding, an hour drive each way along a winding mountain road. I laughed out loud numerous times, and the drive seemed to fly by.

The Wednesday Wars is set during the school year of 1967-1968. The protagonist is 7th grader Holling Hoodhood, the only Presbyterian in his class. Every Wednesday, half the class goes off for Hebrew instruction and the other half goes off for Catholic instruction. Holling is left in his teacher’s care. If not for him, Mrs. Baker would have Wednesday afternoons off. Therefore he is sure she hates him as only a teacher can and is out to kill him in devious ways, including by making him read Shakespeare plays.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story. But I will say this: I laughed and laughed and laughed. I related to all the angst of a 12 year old. I remembered those atomic bomb drills where we got under our desks. I also ached over parts of the story. The writer is truly gifted at saying much with a few words. He also reminded me why I’m glad I’m not a 7th grade boy dealing with the 8th grade boys on the cross-country team. Read the book to know what I mean. LOL! And it is a rare writer who can bring me to tears while I’m walking on the treadmill, but that’s what happened to me when he so wonderfully described the sound Mrs. Baker made when–– (Nope! Not gonna say more.)

If you were ever a kid, if you were ever in the 7th grade, and especially if you were a 7th grade kid during the turbulent ’60s, you need to read this book.
Profile Image for BookNightOwl.
977 reviews174 followers
January 10, 2020
This middle grade book took place in 1967 during the Vietnam War. I enjoy books that take place during a historical time. The Wednesday Wars deals with school, family, fathers, teachers and friends. While I enjoyed some of the laugh out loud moments of this book. I love how the main character was reading shakespeare. I felt like the writing of this book was not my style. I had a hard time staying focus. Overall it was okay.
Profile Image for Büşra Köprü.
Author 5 books53 followers
July 9, 2020
Dolabı açıp "Ne okusam ben ya?" diye kendi kendime dertlendiğim anlardan birinde Kanka gözüme çarptı ve epeydir çocuk karakterli bir kitap okumadığım için (epeydir dediğim iki aydan az bir süre ama beni biliyorsunuz, çocukları çok seviyorum) hadi bakalım diyerek kitaba başladım. Çarşamba Savaşları tam olarak hangi sebeple dilimize Kanka diye çevrildi hiçbir fikrim yok ama bir önceki yorumda da taş attığım Yarım Kral / Çolak Kral çevirisini hatırlarsanız, iki kitabın aynı çevirmen elinden çıktığına şaşırma oranımız biraz azalabilir. Okumadan önce fark etmemiştim ama iki kitabın ismi de öyle saçma uyarlanmış ki "kim çevirmiş bu kitabı ya" isyanım beni bu bilgiye ulaştırdı. Neyse, Emre Beye bu ilginç çevirileri için kocaman soru işaretleri gönderiyorum. Gelelim Kanka kelimesiyle hiç alakası olmayan kitabımıza...

Yani, cidden. Normalde kitabı orijinal kopyasından araştırıp yorumlara göz atmasam ismi kanka olan bir kitabı okuyacağımı cidden sanmıyorum ama gerek esas ismi gerek 1967 yılında geçen bir kurguya sahip olması dikkatimi çektiği için epeydir elimde olan kitaplardan biriydi. Şükür ki güzel bir kitap çıktı da Sophie Kinsella sonrası kitaplara karşı içimde yeşeren soğumayı bastırabildim.

Holling, 7. sınıfa giden kitabımızın esas karakteri. Okulun açıldığı zamandan itibaren ay ay yaşadıklarını bize anlatıyor ve biz onun harika karakterini, güzel bakış açısını ve yaşadığı ilginç olaylara karşı seçtiği yolları okuyarak bir yılda geçirdiği değişimlere şahit oluyoruz. Yer yer kalbimi kıran olaylarla karşılaşıyor, yer yer göz dolduran mutluluklarına şahit oluyoruz. Ama gerçekten en güzeli yılın sonunda nasıl da ilerlediğini görebilmek. Dördüncü sınıfları mezun ederken sene başını ve sonunu hatırlatan ufak detayları gözden geçirmek kadar tatlıydı okuması. Ebeveynlerin, öğretmenlerin ve orta okuldan itibaren gençlerin keyifle okuyabileceği faydalı bir kitap olduğunu düşünüyorum.

Kitapla ilgili ufak tefek sıkıntılar yok değildi, çoğu da bence yazardan kaynaklıydı. Ara sıra 7. sınıfa giden bir çocuk değil de, 7. sınıfa gittiğini hayal eden bir yazarın zihniyle karşı karşıya kaldığımız olmadı değil ama genel olarak karakteri iyi yansıttığını söyleyebiliriz.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
584 reviews31 followers
December 23, 2007
I love this book. Love, love, love, love, love, love. Love.

First, it takes place on Long Island, which I didn't even know when I ordered it for the library. So, sure I got an extra chuckle out of Schmidt's description of LI in November than the reader from, say, Nebraska will. But still, this is just an adorable story and you don't have to be stuck on the Long Island Expressway to enoy it. It reminds me of Richard Peck, if Richard Peck wrote about 1960's surburban life and not 1930's Illinois.

It is heartfelt and hopeful without being hokey. A must-read.
Profile Image for Esta Doutrich.
123 reviews44 followers
April 29, 2023
Read it to preview it for my son and ended up loving it for myself
Profile Image for Duffy Pratt.
466 reviews133 followers
August 21, 2013
It oozes charm. In the first half of the book, Schmidt really had me. I absolutely loved everything surrounding the incident with the creampuffs and its aftermath. While the charm remained, the second half lacked a bit of direction. It didn't quite stall, but the plot is a very slender reed here. And outside of Holling and Mrs. Baker, the characters are all pretty thin.

There's also a fairly horrifying aspect here. During this book, Holling does the following: Appears as Ariel in a local performance of The Tempest; gets brushed by a school bus while saving his sister and landing in the hospital, gets opening day tickets to see the Yankees, goes to Port Authority again to rescue his prodigal sister, runs and wins a varsity cross country match. His parents are not there for any of these things. For his performance in the play, they are too busy watching the Bing Crosby Christmas Special. When he lands in the hospital, they couldn't be bothered. For opening day, his father promises to take him, in spite of already having two prior engagements which he knows he will keep. The father is an incredible asshole, more distant than any Dad I knew of while growing up. And the mom is almost a cypher. With parents like these, its basically a miracle that Holling and his sister grow up with any sense at all. This leaves me wondering: is this how many Boomers think of themselves? As having turned out well in spite of the neglect of their parents?

An additional charm of this book for me is that I grew up in the next town over from Hicksville, where this takes place. He never mentions Hicksville in the book, but its where Schmidt is from. Also, I was one of the kids who left our school for religious instruction (on Fridays instead of Wednesdays). That lasted until I got kicked out for arguing with the nuns. Schmidt does such a great job of capturing the spirit of growing up in sheltered Long Island in the sixties. It almost makes me think that most of the book would be lost on its targeted audience. That said, early teenagers recommended this one to me, so it must play pretty well to at least some of the YAs (at least those who don't spend all of their time re-reading yet again the same couple of series).
Profile Image for Joshua.
102 reviews7 followers
December 9, 2007
Without too much effort, you could probably come up with a dozen or so books of the Teacher-Who's-Totally-Mean-At-First-Develops-A-Mentoring-Relationship-With-The-Student-And-There-Are-Some-Life-Lessons-And-A-Bunch-Of-Growing-Up-Happens Genre, but dollars to doughnuts, none would be quite as good or as fun to read as Wednesday Wars. Toads, beetles, bats, I loved it--as the Bard might say. This one could probably work as young as fourth grade.
Profile Image for Kari Ann Sweeney.
940 reviews277 followers
March 24, 2020
I loved it. This is me GUSHING! Set in 1967 during the Vietnam War, it captured all the complex, nostalgic feelings of middle school. It was tender and full of humor, but also handled the deeper issues of the time period with care. It explored friendships, crushes, sibling relationships, embarrassment, bullies and more. I loved so many things about this book, but the best part was the relationship between inspirational-teacher Mrs. Baker and Holling.

I would recommend it for any adult and the older end of middle grade readers, ages 11-12.

FOUND: I put this on my TBR 4 years ago- March 2016 after hearing about it on Episode 10 of What Should I Read Next. Patting myself on the back for finally reading it while also giving myself a noogie for not reading it sooner because it was downright fabulous.
Profile Image for Patience.
186 reviews3 followers
August 10, 2021
What can I say? Now I feel peer pressured onto reading Shakespeare plays. I would really like to read over this book again, studying the writing. I was biting my nails and had my heart in my throat all the way through.
Profile Image for Lisa.
753 reviews50 followers
February 23, 2010
I learned two new ways to cuss this month. First, my sister Aimee told me that in the Fantastic Mr. Fox movie instead of cussing they say, "What the cuss!" Love it! Next, Holling Hoodhood the 7th grade narrator of this delightful book learns all about the best kind of cussing by reading, Shakespeare's "The Tempest." He says,"Caliban-the monster in the play-he knew cuss words. Even Doug Swieteck's brother couldn't cuss like that-and he could cuss the yellow off a school bus." There are great scenes of Holling practicing these Caliban curses behind closed doors. Holling has me cussing,"Toads, beetles, bats," left and right. Especially when my kids delete my first review of this book to play Nick Jr. "Toads, beetles, bats," I can't remember everything I said the first time.

This book is well deserving of the Newbery Honor it received. Holling is the lone Presbyterian stuck at school with his teacher Mrs. Baker (who hates his guts) every Wednesday while half the class heads off to Hebrew school and the other half to Catechism. This book is very reminiscent of, "The Wonder Years." I kept expecting Kevin and Winnie to pop up on the next page. I loved watching the relationship between Holling and Mrs. Baker unfold throughout the year on Wednesday afternoons and beyond. Holling also has a sister in High school and the scenes between the two of them are touching and magical. This book will definitely have you giggling and tearing up constantly.

A great book to recommend to your kids or read with them.

Thanks to Doug for recommending this wonderful book!

Spoiler Alert**

I have to include this passage because I checked this out from the library. I want to be able to visit this passage of beautiful writing from time to time:

"Think of the sound you make when you let go after holding your breath for a very, very long time. Think of the gladdest sound you know: the sound of dawn of the first day of spring break, the sound of a bottle of Coke opening, the sound of a crowd cheering in your ears because you're coming down to the last part of a race-and you're ahead. Think of the sound of water over stones in a cold stream, and the sound of wind through green trees on a late May afternoon in Central Park. Think of the sound of a bus coming into the station carrying someone you love.
Then put all those together.
And they would be nothing compared to the sound that Mrs. Baker made that day from somewhere deep inside that had almost given up, when she heard the first line of that telegram.
The she started to hiccup, and to cry, and to laugh..."

I'm Crying all over again!

Profile Image for Gandom.
72 reviews53 followers
July 9, 2018
"جنگ چهارشنبه ها"نوشته ی گری دی اشمیت نویسنده ی آمریکایی،درباره ی پسری به نام هالینگ هودهود و معلم کلاس هفتم اوست.درباره ی چهارشنبه هایی که هالینگ و معلمش در کلاس تنها هستند و ماجراهای شیرین،بامزه و گاهی شگفت انگیز رو رقم میزنند.
این کتاب بسیار شیرینه!با خواندنش احساسات مختلفی رو تجربه خواهید کرد;به یاد ترسها و آمال و آرزوهای دوران نوجوانی می افتید،با هالینگ زندگی میکنید،باهاش ترس رو تجربه میکنید،همراهش غصه میخورید و حتی خجالت میکشید!
اگه بخوام با دو کلمه این کتاب رو توصیف کنم باید بگم:زیبا و نوستالژیک!
این دومین کتابی هست که از این نویسنده خوندم و به اندازه ی کتاب اول"فعلا خوبم"ازش لذت بردم.قدرت قلم نویسنده واقعا آدم رو جذب میکنه و باعث میشه دوست داشته باشی کتاب هیچوقت تمام نشه!شاید دلیل اینکه با وجود جذابیت عجیب این کتاب،چند روزی طول کشید تا به اتمام برسونمش همین باشه...!
نکته ی جالبی که در مورد این کتاب و فعلا خوبم وجود داره اینه که هر دو در جریان جنگ ویتنام اتفاق می افتند و نویسنده سعی کرده تأثیر ج��گ بر زندگی مردم و عواطف کودکان رو بیان کنه و مهم تر از اون به صورت خیلی زیر پوستی فداکاری سربازان و فرماندهان مدافع کشور و حتی خانواده های آنها رو به تصویر بکشه،به گونه ای که در انتهای کتاب حس سپاسگزاری رو در خواننده زنده کنه.(و البته فکر میکنم بسیار موفق عمل کرده!)
رمانهای آمریکایی رو بسیار دوست دارم و معتقدم نویسندگان آمریکایی به خوبی میتونن ارزشها و فرهنگ کشورشون رو به صورت غیر مستقیم به مخاطب منتقل کنند!البته مسلم هستس که ممکنه فرهنگ کشورهای مختلف در بسیاری موارد تطابق نداشته باشند و مخاطب باید این عدم تطابق رو مد نظر داشته باشه....
نکته ی جالب دیگری که در این کتاب دیدم تأثیر شخصیت های آثار شکسپیر بر رفتار و گفتار و زندگی هالینگ بود;به گونه ای که پس از خواندن هر نمایشنامه به آنالایز ویژگی های رفتاری کاراکترها میپرداخت و از بعضی الگو میگرفت و برخی رو مایه ی عبرت میدونست!این پسر نازنین...
این هم هنر دیگر نویسنده هست که کتابخوانی رو به خواننده ی نوجوان القا میکنه!
در این کتاب شخصیت بد مطلق و خوب مطلق نداریم،همه ی شخصیتها یه جورایی هم خوبن و هم اشتباهاتی دارن،در عین حال همشون(حتی برادر داگ سوییتک😉)به همدیگه عشق میورزن و به هم کمک میکنن....
خیلی در مورد این کتاب و سبک نویسنده حرف دارم ولی به همین طوماری که نوشتم!بسنده میکنم و فقط این کتاب رو به تمام کسانی که دلشون برای دوران خوش نوجوانی تنگ شده،و تمام کسانی که پسربچه ها رو دوست دارن و کسانی که دنبال یه کتاب کامل ان،پیشنهاد میکنم!(مخصوصا اگه فعلا خوبم رو خوندید!)
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