Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Wednesday Wars

Schmidt, Gary D., 2007. THE WEDNESDAY WARS. Clarion Books: New York. ISBN  978-0618724833

The Wednesday Wars takes place during 1967 amidst the Vietnam War and political unrest.  The main character, Holling Hoodhood, is sentenced to a weekly Wednesday tutorial with his teacher, because he, the lone Presbyterian, has nothing to do on those afternoons.  After learning about cleaning erasers for a while, Holling begans exploring beauty of Shakespeare.  Mrs. Baker also coaches him on running track.  Holling learns much about life and himself throughout the Wednesday Wars.  

Critical Analysis
Gary Schmidt's representation of life in the late 60s for a middle school-aged kid is spot on, and the lead character, Holling Hoodhood's traits withstand the test of time.  Schmidt incorporates the classic plays of Shakespeare in to The Wednseday Wars.  The relationship of love and war and beauty and tragedy are as relevant in the present time as the past. Holling's relationship with his teacher, family and friends may be rocky at times, but love is always a constant in life’s equation.  Parallels between Shakespearean plays and the uncertain times of the 1960s inspire Holling Hoodhood during the typical junior high experiences. 

2008 Newbery Honor Book
ALA (American Library Assn), Notable Book for Children 2008 
ALA, Best Book for Young Adults 2008
Booklist, Editors' Choice 2007
National Parenting Publications Book Award 2007
New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2007
Book Sense Award Finalist 2007

"There are laugh-out-loud moments that leaven tie many poignant ones as Schmidt explores many important themes, not the least of which is what makes a person a hero." - School Library Journal 2007
" of the most endearing characters to come along in some time." - Publishers Weekly 2008
"To see if the novel would resonate as deeply with a child, I gave it to an avid but discriminating 10-year-old reader. His laughter, followed by repeated outbursts of ‘Listen to this!,’ answered my question. Best of all, he asked if I had a copy of ‘The Tempest’ he could borrow." - New York Times Book Review 2007

  • The Wednesday Wars would be an excellent gateway or introduction to Shakespeare's liturature.  After reading, students can study a specific play and look for parallels in their own world
  • Students can practice Reader's Theater for their favorite section of the book and act it out in groups for the class.
  •  After reading each chapter (titled by the months of the year), students can keep a reading journal and practice summarizing and sharing what they have read.

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