Monday, February 20, 2012

The book I read is called: The Wednesday Wars, If they would to make a movie I would like to play Meryl-lee Kowaslki.

The Wednesday Wars is a 2007 young adult historical fiction novel written by Gary D. Schmidt, the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. The novel is set in suburban Long Island during the 1967-68 school year. The Vietnam War is an important backdrop for the novel. Holling Hoodhood, the protagonist, is a twelve year old boy who has entered 7th grade that year. This novel was given a Newbery Honor medal in 2008.[1] It was also nominated for the 2010 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award.

Plot summary

In 1967, Holling Hoodhood is in the 7th grade in Long Island. While Jewish families reside in the north part of town and Catholic families in the south, the Hoodhoods live right in the center. On Wednesdays, his Jewish classmates attend Hebrew studies, and his Catholic classmates learn the Catechism. Holling, being Presbyterian, stays behind in class with his teacher Mrs. Baker, whom Holling believes "hates his guts" but later befriends. She at first instructs him to clean the room and do other chores; then she begins reading Shakespeare with him. While she makes Holling take exams and write essays on the plays for her to find out if he really understands them, Sycorax and Caliban, the class rats, scuttle in the ceiling and some of the teachers try to catch them. Later on in the year, Holling starts to enjoy Shakespeare, particularly his colorful insults and curses. On one of the days he is with Mrs. Baker, she says he may have one of several dozen creams puffs which have been sitting in her room, tantalizing the class. When his friends find out that he got one, they say that he owes them cream puffs. He saves all of his allowance, but ends up short. The baker selling them, Mr. Goldman, however, is, ironically, in need of a boy who knows Shakespeare. Holling gets the cream puffs in exchange for promising to play Ariel in a community production of The Tempest. The only drawback is that he must wear an embarrassing costume (tights with "white feathers on the butt"), which later ends up posted all over the school by a bully, Doug Swieteck's brother, who wants to humiliate him.
Holling is quietly disappointed with his father, whose business ambitions dominate his life and conversation. He not only fails to attend the performance, but also fails to pick Holling up and take him to an autograph signing with his baseball hero, Mickey Mantle. Fortunately Holling makes it to the autographing by using public transit, but Micky Mantle tells Holling that he doesn't do autographs for kids in yellow tights. Danny Hupfer, who has already gotten his baseball signed drops his ball in front of Mickey, saying "I guess I don't want this anymore". He and Holling leave. Mrs. Baker, whose brother owns the sporting goods store, finds a way to make it up to Holling through her connections.
Holling's older sister, Heather, referred to only as "my sister" for most of the book, is in the midst of a rebellion against her father. She cares about civil rights, works for Bobby Kennedy, opposes the Vietnam War, and disagrees with her father about almost everything. She and Holling bicker, as siblings do, but they genuinely care for one another. When he sees a bus sliding on the ice towards her, he does not hesitate to rescue her, and is hit by the bus himself. It is Mrs. Baker who takes him to the hospital and waits with him. His father does not see the need to get out in the bad weather since the teacher is already taking care of everything. When he returns to school, another picture of Holling is plastered everywhere, and this time he is seen as a hero.
Holling's relationship with Meryl Lee Kowalski begins to blossom, although her father is an architect in competition with Holling's father. A misunderstanding involving their fathers threatens to break them up, but they make up and become better friends afterwards. Meanwhile, their friend Danny Hupfer is anxious about his upcoming bar-mitzvah, and their friend Mai Thi, an orphaned refugee from Vietnam, is experiencing racism from those who blame her for the American lives lost in the war. However, Mrs. Baker, whose husband is missing in action in a dangerous part of Vietnam, treats her kindly, and her friends stand up for her.
After Mr. Hoodhood forces his daughter to work for him after school and on Saturdays, preventing her from volunteering for the Robert Kennedy campaign, the family tension increases. When her father dictates that she will not be allowed to attend college, his wish to keep her "safe" is transparent--he wants to keep her working for him for low wages and thus control her activities. She abruptly runs away with a boyfriend named Chit, and tension in the household increases. Mr. Hoodhood says that his daughter need not seek help from him in the future, and Mrs. Hoodhood quietly rebels in the only ways open to her, by no longer cooking her husband's favorite foods and by declining to join him for an evening drive in his new car.
Holling joins a cross-country running squad and gets unexpected help from Mrs. Baker, who was once an Olympic medalist in relay racing. He earns a place on the Varsity team for the upcoming year and wins a savings bond at a track meet. It is the encouragement of Mrs. Baker and his friends that enables him to win. His parents are not present.
When his father also defaults on taking Holling to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Mrs. Baker again comes to the rescue, for she recognizes that Holling is a good kid in a less than ideal situation. In a series of interesting and ironic twists, this event leads to a prize contract for Mr. Kowlaski, whom Holling's father had almost driven out of business.
Holling gets a late night call from his sister, who having refused to go further with Chit, is stranded in Minneapolis with only four dollars. Holling wires her the money from his savings bond and makes plans to meet her. During this episode, his sister's name is finally revealed in a touching coincidence. When his father refuses to drive him to the terminal to meet his sister, and his mother is apparently unwilling or unable to defy his father, he is given a ride by Mr. Kowalski. However, he still needs a way home for himself and his sister. His mother unhesitatingly gives him the money without telling her husband. He brings his sister home, and when Mr. Hoodhood mockingly asks his daughter whether she found herself, Holling replies for her, saying that she found him (Holling).
As the school year draws to a close, Mrs. Baker, who has learned that her missing husband is safe and will be coming home, takes the children on a camping trip. It involves many misfortunes, including losing the can-opener, being soaked by a downpour, and being attacked by clouds of mosquitoes; however, the trip turns out to be a success, especially when the widowed school cook, Mrs. Bigio, arrives with fresh supplies and a happy surprise for Mai Thi.
Holling briefly describes the closing weeks of school and the reunion of Mrs. Baker and her husband, but the maturity he has gained from his experiences shows in his commentary about the Shakespeare plays he has read and the way he connects the Shakespearean life lessons to those around him. It is clear that with the help of his sister, his friends, and his caring teacher, Holling is on the road to choosing his life path for himself rather than being cowed by his father.


Holling Hoodhood The first-person narrator and protagonist, a seventh grader who throughout the book has many conflicts with his family, friends, and teacher, ultimately leading to him "finding himself" at the end of the school year.
Mrs. Baker Holling's school teacher, who at the beginning is portrayed as the antagonist but slowly becomes a protagonist. She teaches Holling Shakespeare, and helps him out with six challenges.
Meryl Lee Kowalski Holling's girlfriend, another protagonist who helps Holling through his difficult situations.
Heather Hoodhood Holling's rebellious teenage sister, whom he rescues from a sliding bus and whom he helped get home from a bus station halfway across the country. She and Holling eventually share a tight bond with one another.
Holling's Father, Mr. Hoodhood The strict, architecturally obsessed father of Holling and Heather who is seen as the antagonist of the story.
Mr. Kowalski Holling Hoodhoods fathers job competition and Meryl Lee's Father.

Secondary Characters Danny Hupfer, Mai Thi, Doug Sweiteck and his brother, Sycorax, Caliban, Mickey Mantle, Horace Clarke, Joe Pepitone, Mrs. Hoodhood, Mrs. Sidman, Mr. Vendleri, Lieutenant Baker, Mr. Guareschi, and Mrs. Bigio.

Author(s)Gary D. Schmidt
Genre(s)Historical Fiction,
Children's Literature
PublisherClarion Books
Publication dateMay 21, 2007
Media typePrint
(Hardback &Paperback)
Followed byOkay for Now

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