Toads, Beetles, Bats

Retro Friday Reviews is hosted by Angieville. Basically you highlight a lesser known or older title on Fridays. Sound Bytes is hosted by Devourer of Books, the point being to highlight an audiobook on Fridays.

Y’all I love a good historical fiction. I also love a great audiobook. When these elements combine, it’s like a double rainbow.  The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt combines these elements, and provides a glimpse into Holling Hoodhood’s life. You see, Holling is a 7th grader in the 1960s. He does not leave class early for catechism class or Hebrew class like his Catholic and Jewish classmates. Instead, Holling is the only kid left in class, much to the perceived ire of his teacher, Mrs. Baker who assigns him Shakespeare as out of class reading to fill the time. At turns hilarious and heartfelt, The Wednesday Wars is a fantastic, multilayered read that doesn’t paint the 1960s with the nostalgia brush but takes an honest look at such a turbulent time through the eyes of a pre-teen.

The Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt, Book Cover

The Wednesday Wars

Oh my goodness, friends I fricken loved The Wednesday Wars. I loved the Shakespeare references. Here’s the thing, I have never read Shakespeare for pleasure because I don’t understand him, however, I like the idea of him. And I like reading books that make me want to seek out his works without being forced by a teacher. And yo, the Caliban curses ‘toads, beetles, bats’ make for some excellent laugh out loud moments.

I loved Holling. He’s such an earnest character with his worry about wearing yellow tights with white feathers on the butt. I know that’s a brief little teaser. He’s also dealing with his dad who cares more about image than family. Holling has fights with his sister, yet there’s a deep level of sibling affection too, I mean, not Flowers In The Attic affection, but legit I care about you affection. We also see Holling lose some of the trappings of childhood, making The Wednesday Wars poignant. It’s not all fun and games when you become disillusioned by your childhood heroes. And let me tell you, it’s a little hard to listen to, but worth the ultimate pay off.

In essence, The Wednesday Wars is a fabulous story about growing up and learning some very hard truths. As I said about, it’s set during a very turbulent time in history, and does address things like racism and the Vietnam war. It does address the social problems of the time instead of brushing them aside for a whitewashed history. And I loved that, I loved the honesty. I loved that there was still humor despite the darkness.

Further, I absolutely recommend reading Gary D. Schmidt’s book via audio. The narrator, Joel Johnstone has a pitch perfect voice, reminding me of The Wonder Years or the Sandlot narrator. Honestly I was yearning for a perceivably simpler time, despite the ’60s being anything but. Further, Johnstone has a storytelling voice, where as a listener, you find yourself leaning in, wanting him to recount even further adventures. Either way, I’ve found a great narrator and definitely an audiobook to recommend to beginners. The Wednesday Wars audiobook is produced by Scholastic audio and is 7 hours and 27 minutes long.

Disclosure: Purchased with an audible credit.

Other reviews of The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt:

Green Bean Teen Queen

Purchase The Wednesday Wars here*FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link.


About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I loved this book toooo! I so wished that a) I had read when I was younger or b) I knew a pre-teen kid I could give it to. Excellent book. Has this author written anything else, do you know?

  2. This sounds fantastic. I’ve heard the title often but had no idea what the book was about. I’m always looking for a good audiobook and will go see if my library has this one right now!

  3. This book is AMAZING! I seriously need to reread it at some point. I think it’s honestly one of the best MG books I’ve ever read and I don’t think it gets nearly enough love!

  4. Cathrine Kirkman says

    THis book looks like something i could read and i need to read a lot so add this one to the pile!!!!!

  5. Cathrine Kirkman says

    Hello cathrine thank you for reading one of my absolute faverite books!!!!


  1. […] love. My feelings for Okay For Now, that is. Okay For NowOkay For Now is a companion novel to The Wednesday Wars. After running his mouth to the boss, Doug Swieteck’s father loses his Long Island job and […]

  2. […] by Joel Johnstone The Wednesday WarsWhy? If you are a fan of The Wonder Years and nostalgia, then The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt is the perfect audio for you to begin with. It’s funny and at turns […]

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