A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shakespeare, his plays, and his wisdom figure in the plot. Events in the larger world during the 1967-68 school year unfold in the background, including the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
Don't let the limitations of your family hold you back. Keep hope alive. Don't let bullies keep you down. Shakespeare isn't boring.
Positive Role Models
Holling is an angst-ridden 11-year-old who tries to do what's right while under pressure from his overbearing father. He opens up to the wisdom of Shakespeare and opens his heart. Mrs. Baker is the thoughtful teacher who gets Holling reading Shakespeare and helps his family in a variety of ways.
Violence & Scariness
Two rats are run over by a bus. Holling deals with a bully. The story is told against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
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Products & Purchases
Twinkies, Coke, Ford Mustang.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Middle schoolers smoke in the bathroom at school.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Newbery Honor Book The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, is a poignant coming-of-age story involving the funny misadventures of Long Island, New York, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood and his unlikely discovery of Shakespeare in the turbulent academic year of 1967-68. There are two references to middle school students smoking, and a scene of two rats run over by a bus.
Is It Any Good?
It's a wonderful thing when an author can bring the reader to tears without anything sad happening. It's even better when it's done in the course of what would normally be described as "hilarious misadventures." Author Gary D. Schmidt accomplishes this by getting inside the head of a bright but fairly typical goofball seventh-grader who's doing the opposite of what so many kids at that age do -- opening his heart to the world.
With the prim prodding of his dry, no-nonsense teacher, and a big dollop of help from the Bard, Holling learns to see into the hearts of others, which causes him to stand up to his overbearing father, to care for his floundering older sister when she needs him, to recognize the depth of his friendships, to see the humanity in his teachers, and ... to begin to really understand Shakespeare. This is a funny and breathtakingly moving book, because in the end there's little that's as funny and moving as growing up -- except perhaps growing into a wise and loving person.
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