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. 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.
Kids will instantly connect with Holling as he shares his life story as a teen in 1967.
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 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 closes to hom is in 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 storyline stay fresh every time. This was a fun read.
This is a middle grade novel with coming-of-age themes for junior high students.
Kids who are living wars in Afghanistan may see some parallels with Holling's 1960s life. This is an excellent choice for a book club because of the opportunities to discuss universal topics relevant to teens.
11 and Up
9 to 13
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™
Borrow, at least. Gary Schmidt is an excellent writer.