Saturday, March 14, 2009

the wednesday wars by gary d. schmidt

holling hoodhood is really in for it. he's just started seventh grade with mrs. baker, a teacher he knows is out to get him. why else would she make him read shakespeare . . . outside of class?

the year is 1967, and everyone has bigger things to worry abut, especially vietnam. then there's the family business. as far as holling's father is concerned, the hoodhoods need to be on their best behavior: the success of hoodhood and associates depends on it. but how can holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with. rats, for one thing; cream puffs, for another. then there's doug swieteck's brother. and that's just for starters. in a series of mishapes and adventures over the course of the school year, fate sneaks up on holling again and again.

gary d. schmidt has written a novel that is at turns comic and compelling, down-to-earth and over-the-top. in the wednesday wars, he offers an unforgettable antihero holling hoodhood, a kid from the suburbs who embraces his destiny in spite of himself.

dear gary d. schmidt,

if i reproduce, i secretly hope my offspring have a lot in common with holling hoodhood. he is as awkward, hilarious, endearing as any kid could be. he's snarky without wounding. gracious without being a goody goody. and hilarious without ever realizing that he's the punchline. he is one of the most unassumingly dynamic characters i've come across in a book, children's or not. seventh grade would have been way more interesting if holling was in my class. 

your ability to string together daily life and encounters that seem to have nothing to do with one another is fantastic. too often i read a story that feels like a series of isolated incidents for a character and i don't understand why they got a novel, instead of an inclusion in a collection of short stories. not so with you. holling's days, weeks, and months feed in to each other.

please write more. and in the meantime, i'm putting lizzie bright and the buckminster boy and trouble in my reading queue.

oh, and i've totally begun to make up shakespearian insults. 

dutifully yours,
a lone reader


  1. thank you to mom bryan for this one. and thanks to you for passing along the all-star recommendation. i like a mayor who knows good books.