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Publishers Weekly, 2007-07-09 Johnstone brings to life one of the most endearing characters to come along in some time. Holling Hoodhood is starting seventh grade in 1967. It is a time of change, not just for Holling as he begins his journey into adolescence, but for the world around him as well. The war in Vietnam is raging and the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy hang heavy on the American consciousness by the end of the school year. And for Holling, the world of nascent relationships lies before him, not to mention, baseball, camping and the constant excitement, wonder and terror of being 11 at such a volatile time. Johnstone's first-person narration perfectly captures Holling's progression from an angst-filled yet innocent boy, to a wiser, self-aware young man. His reading is touching, funny and insightful; he manages to bring the listener back to a time-real or nostalgically re-imagined, at least-when the crack of a bat against a ball in Yankee Stadium or sharing a Coke with a girl at the Woolworth's counter was all any boy could want. This is a lovely, heartfelt novel, read with as much care as the author used to create it. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-04-16 On the first day of the 1967-68 school year, Holling Hoodhood thinks he's made a mortal enemy of his new teacher when it turns out he's the only seventh-grader who does not leave early every Wednesday to attend Hebrew school or catechism. (Holling is Presbyterian, and though eminently likeable, he does have a knack for unintentionally making enemies.) Stern Mrs. Baker first gives him custodial duties, but after hilarious if far-fetched catastrophes involving chalk dust, rats and freshly baked cream puffs, she switches to making him read Shakespeare. He overcomes his initial horror, adopting the Bard's inventive cursing as his own to dress down schoolyard bullies. Indeed standing up for himself is the real battle Holling is waging, especially at home, where his architect father has the entire family under his thumb. Schmidt, whose Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy won both Printz and Newbery Honors, delivers another winner here, convincingly evoking 1960s Long Island, with Walter Cronkite's nightly updates about Vietnam as the soundtrack. The serious issues are leavened with ample humor, and the supporting cast-especially the wise and wonderful Mrs. Baker-is fully dimensional. Best of all is the hero, who shows himself to be more of a man than his authoritarian father. Unlike most Vietnam stories, this one ends happily, as Schmidt rewards the good guys with victories that, if not entirely true to the period, deeply satisfy. Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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