While his Catholic and Jewish classmates attend their religious instruction, Holling Hoodhood (who is the main character of the book and is the only Presbyterian in his seventh grade class) is stuck staying with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, on Wednesday afternoons. And because Mrs. Baker is forced to stay at school because of this one lone student, Holling is positive she hates his guts. His belief is reinforced when she makes him read Shakespeare.
The author deftly weaves in writing about the angst of growing up, the turbulent 1960s, the Vietnam war, and the timeless wisdom of Shakespeare into a tale of a likable kid in his seventh grade year at school. Holling gets into many predicaments (being late to the New York Yankee’s baseball game, getting hit by a school bus, being a slow runner) and Mrs. Baker comes flying in like a super hero to solve all of his problems. Well, most of them. (Mmmmm. . . none of my school teachers were involved in my life — or any other student for that matter — like Mrs. Baker is involved in Holling’s life . . .)
This book will keep your grandchildren engrossed — even if they might happen to be girls and even if the book is about a boy. It will even hold grandma’s attention if she reads it. (It kept me happily occupied while riding to and fro on public transportation.)
I only have one beef about the book. And that’s the incident with the rats and the cream puffs. The delaying of the eating of the cream puffs seemed too contrived to me. While the thread of the rat incidences runs through the tapestry of this story, this one thread seems to be flawed. But did it stop me from reading? Not in the least! I instantly forgave the author (well, I forgave him after thinking about it for three minutes) and continued reading.
This would be a good book to give as a birthday present to a grandchild. Or, you can have a ‘virtual’ book club with your grandchildren and read this book.
If you are in a book club yourself, this would be a fun book to discuss with adults — and especially discuss the use of Shakespeare’s words and themes in the story. (Using the phrase ‘pied ninnies’ sure wants to roll off my tongue lately . . .)
Wednesday Wars. Try it. You’ll like it.
(And I’ll give a big Symphony creamy-milk-chocolate-almond-and-toffee-bits one-half pound bar to the first reader who can tell me what the last two sentences refer to.)