Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The Wednesday Wars
Lexile = 990
I mentioned this book when I reviewed Orbiting Jupiter, also by Gary Schmidt. The librarian that handed Jupiter to me said that "Everyone loves Wednesday Wars." Well. Obviously the Newbery committee loves this; it was a Newbery Honor book in 2008. Since that time, English teachers everywhere have used it in their classes. I think they do for a couple of reasons. First, it is a great book, no question about that. And second, I think teachers love books that show the powerful influence that a great teacher can have in the life of a student. Of course we like such books! But I don't think that kids respond in a similar way to such themes.
Wednesday Wars is about a student, Holling Hoodhood, that is assigned to spend extra time with his English teacher while the rest of the class is off in religious classes. Of course he hates it and of course he eventually appreciates and even loves his teacher as he sees deeper into her life.
A third reason that I think this book has become a "go to" book for class novels is its historical setting. There aren't too many good books for this level set in the late sixties. That is a plus for a teacher, but not necessarily for students. My daughter picked this up (at my behest) and gave up after a couple of chapters. "Nothing happens," she said.
I actually liked this book once it got going. It is well-written (obviously) and the characters remind me of people I know; they are real. I wonder if teenagers will find the same connections. And I liked Orbiting Jupiter better!