Schmidt, G.D. (2007). The Wednesday wars. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
LS5360: ALA Notable. I am getting good at picking out great books from my kids’ shelves. LOVED it – though I wondered whether my son did since he had put it in the donation box. He loved it, too, but didn’t want THAT copy because the cover and pages are warped. Go figure how that happened. I bought it for him new.
Exposition: The story opens on the first day of seventh grade, at Camillo Junior High, Long Island, New York, 1967 with narration by the main character, Holling Hoodhood who is already lamenting the fact that his new teacher, Mrs. Baker (the other main character), hates him.
Conflict: On Wednesdays, the Catholic kids go to Catechism class, and the Jewish kids go to Hebrew school, and Holling is Presbyterian and the only one left at school with Mrs. Baker, who Holling believes hates him.
Rising Action: Initially, Mrs. Baker tries to keep Holling occupied by doing various chores, but eventually she begins assigning him Shakespeare - whose plot elements often parallel the storyline in Wednesday Wars – and which surprisingly opens new doors for Holling (including acting in a play, avoiding getting beat-up, and getting a girlfriend).
Climax: Mrs. Baker and Holling go on an architectural tour of the city, which awakens Holling to think about what’s inside places, not outside, and he realizes the emptiness of the house without his sister there.
Falling Action: Holling gets money to his sister so she can return home as school winds to a close.
Resolution: Mrs. Baker’s husband is found and Holling and his classmates go to the airport to greet him.
Literary Elements: Figurative language – (for example, this extended metaphor: “We were her garden, and she was starting to see the bulbs and seeds that she had planted last fall coming up. She raked away our dead leaves, spaded new soil around us, and watered and fertilized. And we grew fast and green, let me tell you” (7.8)”) and repetition of words (for example: “So dumb.” Starting in chapter 5 and continuing throughout the remainder of the book) contribute to the enjoyment of the book. But the most obvious and consistently used element is allusion, especially the references to Shakespeare, throughout story.