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Thanks to my daughter the English teacher, I have been "discovering" some compelling young adult fiction. Both of these books by an award-winning author (Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist) deal with life in junior high school, with all the inevitable issues of friends, teachers, parents. But even more significant is the compassionate, humorous way Schmidt handles the underlying questions of morality and values. All that and an irresistible and informative dose of Shakespeare and the politics of the 1960's (The Wednesday Wars) and art and Audubon's paintings (Okay for Now). Good-hearted, insightful, and reassuringly well-written.
In this Newbery Honor–winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt tells the witty and compelling story of a teenage boy who feels that fate has it in for him, during the school year 1968-68.
Seventh grader Holling Hoodhood isn't happy. He is sure his new teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Holling's domineering father is obsessed with his business image and disregards his family. Throughout the school year, Holling strives to get a handle on the Shakespeare plays Mrs. Baker assigns him to read on his own time, and to figure out the enigmatic Mrs. Baker. As the Vietnam War turns lives upside down, Holling comes to admire and respect both Shakespeare and Mrs. Baker, who have more to offer him than he imagined. And when his family is on the verge of coming apart, he also discovers his loyalty to his sister, and his ability to stand up to his father when it matters most.
About the Author
Gary D. Schmidt is the best-selling author ofmany books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
* "Schmidt, whose Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy won both Printz and Newbery Honors, delivers another winner...deeply satisfying." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Schmidt ... [gets] to the emotional heart of every scene without overstatement ... another virtuoso turn." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Schmidt...makes the implausible believable and the everyday momentous...a gentle, hopeful, moving story." —ALA Booklist, starred review
"[An] entertaining and nuanced novel.... There are laugh-out-loud moments that leaven the many poignant ones." School Library Journal
"An accessible, humorous school story, and at the same time, an insightful coming-of-age tale." Bookpage