Book Review: Starting Fresh

Posted by Big Universe on Jan 3, 2013 4:00:48 AM

Happy New Year!

2013 logo source:

Here's to a year of the joys of ...

the sparkle in a person's eye when they've become a reader;

the sigh that comes with a happy ending in a great book; and last but not least ...

discovering new friends, worlds, and more through books.

Picking the first review of the year isn't easy. I searched The Reading Tub website for "new years" books and all I got were first-day-of-school titles. No help! So I changed the term to "fresh start," and the Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt came up in the list. There were others, yes, but this one hits two of my resolutions: read more broadly and review more chapter books!

I have not yet read the Wednesday Wars, but based on the review by the Teen Review Team at Be the Star You Are it is now on my TBR in 2013 list.

The Wednesday Wars
by Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion 2007
Middle Grade Audience
ATOS Reading Level: 5. 9

In Holling’s world (1967), you’re either attending Jewish classes or Catholic classes on Wednesday afternoons—unless you’re Presbyterian like Hollings—in which case, you spend your Wednesdays with Mrs. Baker. The afternoons start off typically with geography and math, cleaning erasers, carrying cream puffs, then Shakespeare. Shakespeare gets Holling: the girl, sports stardom, teacher admiration, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Teachers, students, parents, sisters, boy and girls—everyone grows up and closer together for a happy ending.

Teen Reviewer: Holling Hoodhood - right away you know there’s going to be something good about a character with that name. You keep waiting to see if he’s going to go by that name or some weird nickname. No, Holling it is and you grow to see that Hoodhood is a proud name to have. I like how Holling is realistic about himself: he laughs at himself and he knows that sometimes he does stupid things.

I liked the way Holling talked to the reader saying things like “I know this is going to go bad; don’t you think this is going to go bad?” His character is so real. It’s like you’re standing right there beside him. He’s just a really great guy.

Good things come his way a lot. Quoting Shakespeare was a little freaky, but I guess it helped make his character. The romance between Holling and Meryl is just enough not to be mushy. There’s a war (Vietnam) going on, but the one closest to home is Holling’s relationships with his family, teachers, and friends. That’s actually a good way to help kids who weren't born at that time to feel some of the feelings people were experiencing.

This is a good read for elementary and middle school students. I bought the hardcover book from a book store simply because I knew Gary Schmidt was a great writer. I had read other books by the author from my school library. I would give this book as a gift because the characters and the story stay fresh every time. This was a fun read.


Quite an endorsement, don't you think? My first impression is that this would also make a great read aloud at home or school.

Does the Wednesday Wars remind you of other great books you've read? I'd love to add them to my list ... I've got 12 months of reading ahead.


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Topics: Reviews

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