THE WEDNESDAY WARS
Author: Gary Schmidt
Ages: 11/12-15 (also a good family book)
It’s 1967, there’s a war on, and Holling Hoodhood is the only Presbyterian in his class. This means he has to spend Wednesday afternoons alone in class with Mrs Baker – who totally hates his guts. And his dad won’t listen because he wants his architectural business a to get a contract with her family. His sister believes him, but she hates his guts to. So every Wednesday, he has to beat the dust out of blackboard erasers from every class in the school or read Shakespeare, and all he time he’s waiting for the ceiling to collapse and release the class’s two escaped monsters/mutated rats. Who even Mrs Baker is scared of.
When I was given this book, a year or so ago, I let it slip towards the last page of my kindle. The description I had got of it was along the lines of: middle school, kid hates teacher, teacher hates kid, kid is also being bullied. Then I read it. Yes, the description is true, but somehow never managed to include: 1967/68, there’ a war, there’s two evil rats, he’s learning some pretty interesting things from Shakespeare and the school is the principle’s little experiment before he becomes dictator of a small county (possibly Cuba, possibly something in Eastern Europe). Oh and BTW it’ll make you cry. Possibly. It’s fightable. And not necessarily in sadness. OK, maybe in your case it could be because someone made you read it and you wasted $7 on it. But I really doubt it.
It has got some laugh-out-loud bits, believe it or not. It is partly the traditional growing-up theme, but not in any been-there-read-it-all way. There’s loyalty, despair, bravery (not necessarily by the kids, though) and pranks. And evil rats. All on a level slightly above seventh grade, I feel (except the rats, I remember my grade 6 class hamster. We don’t know how long it was dead before we found out). As in it will be an experience.
I’m not at all American, so I don’t know a lot about the Vietnam war. Maybe it was more interesting and moving to me because of that.
Summary: read it. You won’t regret it, even if you don’t like it as much as I did.
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