On My Bookshelf: The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

February 24, 2020

In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Holling Hoodhood's narration is full of humor and while sometimes he is as young and foolish as one would expect a seventh grade boy to be, other times he is wise beyond his years. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: 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.

In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Holling Hoodhood's narration is full of humor and while sometimes he is as young and foolish as one would expect a seventh grade boy to be, other times he is wise beyond his years. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: I read Okay for Now, a companion to the The Wednesday Wars, ages ago and loved how relatable the characters were (despite the book being set in the past) as well as the strong male protagonist. And I loved Orbiting Jupiter even more for similar reasons, so I think it is safe to say that anything Gary Schmidt writes is a winner.

The Wednesday Wars was particularly heartwarming for me because of the central role Holling's teacher, Mrs. Baker, plays in the novel, which spans one school year. She arranges meetings with famous baseball players, coaches Holling to help him make the varsity track team, pushes him academically with Shakespeare, helps him in his romantic relationship, and leads an end of year camping trip for his entire seventh grade class. 

That isn't to say that Holling, the main character, isn't pretty great himself. His narration is full of humor and while sometimes he is as young and foolish as one would expect a seventh grade boy to be, other times he is wise beyond his years. Like Doug in Okay for Now, Holling flourishes despite his family situation. Holling's father is self-centered and pushy and his mother always defers to him, but Holling stands up for himself and even his older sister Heather.

Classroom application: Similar to Okay for Now, I would recommend this book to 5th through 9th grade students. There isn't any inappropriate or mature content to be concerned about, and likely many students can relate to feeling like a teacher dislikes them.

The book is set in the late 1960s and touches on the assassinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the protests against it, flower children and The Beatles, so a number of historical connections could be made.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Wednesday Wars for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Holling Hoodhood's narration is full of humor and while sometimes he is as young and foolish as one would expect a seventh grade boy to be, other times he is wise beyond his years. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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