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Publisher's Summary

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967-68 school year in Long Island, New York. 

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 with which to contend? 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.

©2007 Gary D. Schmidt (P)2018 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Wednesday Wars

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A Happy Book

This book might have been written for young readers. But it is a happy happy story that took me away from the horrid news cycle enveloping the 2020 Election. An escape for an adult that was in 7th grade in 1968 - the timeframe of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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If you were ever in 7th grade. . .

I first read The Wednesday Wars in 2011, and I have never forgotten it (especially the yellow tights and the story that surrounds them). Recently I bought the audiobook so I could read it again. Glad I did. It was just as much a delight the second time through. Toward the end of the book, I drove to a wedding, an hour drive each way along a winding mountain road. I laughed out loud numerous times, and the drive seemed to fly by.

The Wednesday Wars is set during the school year of 1967-1968. The protagonist is 7th grader Holling Hoodhood, the only Presbyterian in his class. Every Wednesday, half the class goes off for Hebrew instruction and the other half goes off for Catholic instruction. A Presbyterian, Holling is left in his teacher’s care. If not for him, Mrs. Baker would have Wednesday afternoons off. Therefore he is sure she hates him as only a teacher can and is out to kill him in devious ways, including by making him read Shakespeare plays.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story. But I will say this: I laughed and laughed and laughed. I related to all the angst of a 12 year old. I remembered those atomic bomb drills where we got under our desks. I also ached over parts of the story. The writer is truly gifted at saying much with a few words. He also reminded me why I’m glad I’m not a 7th grade boy dealing with the 8th grade boys on the cross-country team. Read the book to know what I mean. LOL! And it is a rare writer who can bring me to tears while I’m walking on the treadmill, but that’s what happened to me when he so wonderfully described the sound Mrs. Baker made when–– (Nope! Not gonna say more.)

If you were ever a kid, if you were ever in the 7th grade, and especially if you were a 7th grade kid during the turbulent ’60s, you need to read this book.

3 people found this helpful

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How can I review a book like this?

I cannot imagine a more moving balance of pure fun and silly childhood perspective and deep and meaningful themes.

The protagonist is an opinionated narrator that is deeply faithful to what it means to be a child, but the author is honed in on what it means to grow into a man.

As the tale unfolds the author’s skill at developing the characters ends up developing the reader as well as the story’s moments intertwine with classic literature especially Shakespeare. I’m now inspired to return to the lessons of the Bard inspired by the way that this book delves into themes of loss, growth, joy, and what it means to live as a person in the world we find ourselves in.

5/5 recommend it without reservations.

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A great book

This book is filled with..... things hard to explain,meanings I guess.
the story was perfect and the narrator had the perfect voice for Holling.

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Awesome

Loved it. Was funny and heartfelt at the same time. Character was good and the narrator fit the role.

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Fabulous story and writing!

I am a 54 year old homeschooling mom, reading this book for a high school literature group. tge writing is absolutely captivating and can teach one much about writing descrpitively and vividly. we just finished The Tempest so the numerous references to that story and other Shakespeare plays was a bonus. this story brought smiles, tears or joy, rears of sadness, and plenty of smiles.

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Fun story

Great narrator choice. Fun story to listen to. Light story referencing heavy history in background.

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Not just for young readers, not just for boys

I came to this novel because of my love for Okay for Now, which I read several years ago, as an adult, about a character who was introduced in this book. I love children’s books that speak plainly about human connection, especially ones with literary and historical references. In Okay for Now, John James Audubon was featured, in this novel, William Shakespeare took center stage, in addition to the Vietnam war, Martin Luther King, Mickey Mantle, and Bobby Kennedy. Joel Johnstone did amazing as the narrator, completely embodied the main character and did a fine job creating voices for all of the rest, female characters included. I was so moved by the messages in this book, a coming of age tale about finding yourself with seemingly disparate characters who come together and look out for each other. It could be humorous one moment and then catch you off guard by bringing tears to your eyes. This is a timeless classic. I would recommend it to young readers and adults alike.

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Enjoyable for a large audience

My 12 y/o nephew listened to this book and recommended it to me. It was so good! The narrator was very well matched to the story. The author created characters and a storyline that was engaging while covering a good amount of history. I highly recommend it for anyone.

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What a great book!

Assigned for 6th Grade Summer reading, my 12 year old son and I were worried about an almost 8 hour read but the story coupled with the Audible performance made this read progress so quickly - entertaining. Highly recommend!