The time: the 1967-1968 school year. Holling Hoodhood is the only 7th grader that doesn’t go to religious education classes, leaving him alone with his teacher on Wednesday afternoons. After a few Wednesdays of exciting chores like eraser cleaning, the teacher decides that they are going to study Shakespeare together.
Holling is a likable, average kid. His seventh grade year is pretty typical. He spends time worrying about school, being concern about how his friends see him, trying to find out who he is, arguing with his father, and learning what he is good at. Gary D Schmidt, the author, deftly ties the various Shakespeare plays that Holling is studying with Holling’s life. The author has made Holling the everyman of seventh grade. He has some of the most amazing adventures: he appears in a Shakespeare play, meets the Yankees, and trains with former Olympic runner.
For me, what made the book compelling , was the background politics of the United States and the Vietnam War. It is so well done. Most of the time the war and the politics are just background in Holling’s life, as they would have been for most seventh graders. I would have been 4- 5 during the time of the book and somehow reading this book brought forth lots of vivid memories.
My biggest concern with this book; I have no idea how to sell this book to kids.