Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Wednesday Wars

I'm a big fan of children's historical fiction. However, books about the 60s and the Vietnam War are usually not my cup of tea. There are some exceptions, however, and Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars is one of them.

Holling Hoodhood is Protestant. This in itself is usually not a big deal, of course. However, when part of your class attends Hebrew school on Wednesday afternoons and the other part attends catechism classes at the local Catholic church, you stick out. Every Wednesday, Holling is under the watchful eye of Mrs. Baker, a Shakespeare-mad teacher. So mad, in fact, that she makes Holling read Shakespeare's plays. Like most seventh graders, this is akin to torture.

The novel is set in 1967; the Vietnam War, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, flower children, Vietnam refugees, and atomic bomb drills are very much part of the fabric of the story. Gary D. Schmidt incorporates these very heavy subjects into an otherwise funny novel with enormous tact, precision, and genius.

This is definitely one of my favorite YA novels of 2007. Keep an eye out for this one come awards time (December-January). Gary Schmidt won the Newbery Honor and the Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. I thought this was just as remarkable and fantastic as that book. While I don't have a Newbery or Printz favorite yet (I do have some I would be happy to see win), this is definitely one I hope is on the shortlists!

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