The Wednesday Wars

by

Gary Schmidt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Wednesday Wars can help.
Mrs. Baker is Holling's seventh grade teacher at Camillo Junior High School. As a teacher, she's demanding and, according to her students, soulless: she refuses to allow her students to decorate the classroom for the holidays, and she regularly either refuses or delays treats for her class. Holling believes that Mrs. Baker hates him because he's the only Presbyterian student and therefore, he spends his Wednesday afternoons with her alone instead of attending religious study like his Jewish and Catholic classmates. Mrs. Baker is an ardent lover of Shakespeare and other classic literature; she believes that Shakespeare wrote about the human condition in a way rivaled by no other writer. During her Wednesday afternoons with Holling, Mrs. Baker manages to pass on her love of Shakespeare to him. Over time, Mrs. Baker demonstrates that she doesn't hate Holling at all and, in fact, eventually becomes a parental figure for him. Though she does care deeply about academics, she also understands the importance of connecting with her students through things that are important to them, which leads her to arrange for Doug, Holling, and Danny to play baseball with the Yankees players Joe Pepitone and Horace Clarke. Mrs. Baker's husband, Lieutenant Tybalt Baker, is in Vietnam for much of the novel. Mrs. Baker clearly loves and cares for her husband; Holling watches her anxiously scan news footage of soldiers in Vietnam looking for her husband, and he watches her emotionally receive telegrams informing her first that Lieutenant Baker is lost and, later, found again. With this, Holling learns to truly humanize Mrs. Baker and see her as a teacher, personal mentor, and friend.

Mrs. Baker Quotes in The Wednesday Wars

The The Wednesday Wars quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Baker or refer to Mrs. Baker. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Wednesday Wars published in 2007.
September Quotes

"So, Holling, what did you do that might make Mrs. Baker hate your guts, which will make other Baker family members hate the name of Hoodhood, which will lead the Baker Sporting Emporium to choose another architect, which will kill the deal for Hoodhood and Associates […]”

Related Characters: Holling's Dad (speaker), Holling Hoodhood, Mrs. Baker
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
November Quotes

I was amazed that Mrs. Baker was letting me read this. It's got to be censored all over the place. I figured that she hadn't read it herself, otherwise she would never have let me at it.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

Everyone—except for Caliban—is happy, and everyone is forgiven, and everyone is fine, and they all sail away on calm seas. Happy endings.

That's how it is in Shakespeare.

But Shakespeare was wrong.

Sometimes there isn't a Prospero to make everything fine again.

And sometimes the quality of mercy is strained.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Bigio, Mai Thi
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
December Quotes

But Doug went on in, and he came back out carrying the cardboard box for Number 166 from the Coat Room. He looked at us, shrugged, and hauled it away down the hall, staggering under its clumsy weight.

Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
January Quotes

When Mrs. Baker came back, her face was set and hard. "Your father has spoken over the phone with the nurse at the front desk. He has given approval for any necessary procedure, and says that, since everything seems under control, he will be along as soon as may be convenient."

Related Characters: Mrs. Baker (speaker), Holling Hoodhood, Holling's Dad, Mr. Guareschi
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
March Quotes

It also didn't help that Mrs. Baker kept wiping at her eyes during her grading. She'd told us that she had a terrible cold, but she hardly needed to tell us. Her eyes were mostly red all the time, and the way she blew her nose could be pretty impressive. Sometimes while sitting at her desk, she'd just stop doing whatever she was doing and look somewhere far away, like she wasn't even in the classroom anymore.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker, Lieutenant Tybalt Baker
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

"It was for the women's four-by-one hundred relay. Don't look so surprised. You didn't think I'd spent my whole life behind this desk, did you?"

And I suddenly realized that, well, I guess I had. Weren't all teachers born behind their desks, fully grown, with a red pen in their hand and ready to grade?

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker (speaker)
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
May Quotes

"Would you mind not calling me 'Mr. Hoodhood'? It sounds like you're talking to my father."

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker, Holling's Dad
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
June Quotes

I could tell that Mrs. Baker was wanting to try it. It was probably getting hot on the open rocks above the falls, with the sun coming straight down now […]

It's got to be hard to be a teacher all the time and not jump into a pool of clear water and come up laughing and snorting with water up your nose.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Wednesday Wars LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Wednesday Wars PDF

Mrs. Baker Character Timeline in The Wednesday Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Baker appears in The Wednesday Wars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
September
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Holling Hoodhood tells the reader that his teacher, Mrs. Baker , hates him with a burning passion—for absolutely no reason. He says it would've made... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
On the first day of seventh grade, Mrs. Baker calls roll. From the names, you can tell where everyone lives: Jewish last names means... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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When Mrs. Baker calls Holling's name during roll, he thinks her tone is hopeful when she asks if... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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Holling finds his mother in the kitchen and informs her that Mrs. Baker hates him. She assures him that Mrs. Baker doesn't hate him, as she barely knows... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
After supper, Holling tells his dad that Mrs. Baker hates him. He shushes Holling, as he's in the middle of watching Walter Cronkite's newscast.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...dad's reaction, but she suggests he either escape to California or get some guts for Mrs. Baker to hate. That night, Holling reads his favorite novel, Treasure Island. He reads the part... (full context)
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On Tuesday, Mrs. Baker eyes Holling in the morning when he comes out of the Coat Room. Holling has... (full context)
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Holling is afraid to go outside for recess, as it's likely that Mrs. Baker recruited an eighth grader to torment him. He fears she might have roped in Doug... (full context)
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...and grenade launchers but he agrees to play anyway. Doug's brother laughs, and Holling imagines Mrs. Baker inside her classroom, laughing too. He figures he'll just kick the ball away if it... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker 's face looks pinched when the class returns after recess, which Holling figures is the... (full context)
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Holling is thrilled to get to escape, but he sees that Mrs. Baker looks victorious. He decides she probably called the police on him for tripping Doug Swieteck's... (full context)
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...but for now, he'll remain in seventh grade math. Mr. Guareschi writes a note to Mrs. Baker and seals it in an envelope before handing it to Holling. He informs Holling that... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling does as he's told and delivers the sealed envelope to Mrs. Baker . Mrs. Baker reads the note, puts it in her desk, and says, "regrettable." Holling... (full context)
October
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All the Wednesdays of September and into October, Mrs. Baker has Holling wash chalkboards, clean erasers, put up bulletin boards, and clean out the Coat... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
The day after this all comes to light, Mrs. Baker glares at the class, and Holling decides she must believe the whole thing is his... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling explains that recess became much safer after Mrs. Baker 's "failed assassination plot," as the "would-be assassins" now leave him alone after what happened... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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A fifth grader named Charles comes into the room carrying a box and assures Mrs. Baker that he got "them" all. He puts the box on Mrs. Baker's desk and looks... (full context)
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...he's too late: the chalk dust already settled over the cream puffs like powdered sugar. Mrs. Baker instructs him to choose a cream puff and then help her carry the rest to... (full context)
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...Soldiers choked on the puffs (which Holling believes is an exaggeration), they quickly realized that Mrs. Baker would never play a practical joke, and they settled for demoting Mrs. Bigio from her... (full context)
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The next morning, Mrs. Baker finds Holling and explains that they need to make some changes to their Wednesday afternoon... (full context)
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On Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Baker informs Holling that they're going to be reading Shakespeare on Wednesdays. Holling thinks this is... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker tells Holling to dig out a small cage, transfer Sycorax and Caliban to it using... (full context)
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...teeth. Holling thinks they look demonic, and he tries to shove the cages back together. Mrs. Baker shrieks, Sycorax leaps at Holling's thumb, and Holling jumps away. Mrs. Baker jumps onto a... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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Mr. Vendleri gets two brooms and a shovel so that Holling and Mrs. Baker can flush the rats out, while he'll catch them with the shovel. Holling is stunned... (full context)
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Mr. Vendleri decides he should tell Mr. Guareschi, and from the safety of her desk, Mrs. Baker agrees that this is a good idea. When the two men return, Mr. Guareschi decides... (full context)
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When Mrs. Baker and Holling are alone again, Mrs. Baker remarks that Holling only pretended to eat his... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...that Doug Swieteck's brother is Shylock, and they're in a courtroom with their other classmates. Mrs. Baker is the judge. Holling and Mrs. Baker take two more days to read The Merchant... (full context)
November
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...ceiling falls down on his face. Holling figures that all the rain is what inspires Mrs. Baker to assign The Tempest next, but he says that her plot to bore him failed... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...knock on the door, but both leave when he say he's practicing a speech for Mrs. Baker . When Heather knocks on the door, Holling uses one of Caliban's curses on her.... (full context)
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Holling and Mrs. Baker listen to the rats scuttle in the ceiling for a moment, and Mrs. Baker swears... (full context)
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In the afternoon, Mrs. Baker gives Holling a 150-question test on The Tempest. Holling listens to Sycorax and Caliban in... (full context)
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On Monday morning, Holling walks to school with a box of fresh cream puffs. Mrs. Baker says nothing, but she and the rest of the class look at the cream puffs... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...and Caliban are in the cream puff box, covered in powdered sugar and vanilla filling. Mrs. Baker stops behind the class and screams Shakespearean curses, and the rats race into the radiators... (full context)
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...contract, she starts crying and runs away. To make matters worse, Mr. Guareschi comes into Mrs. Baker 's room and asks what "pied ninny" means, since Doug Swieteck's brother is in his... (full context)
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That afternoon, Mrs. Baker asks Holling if he thinks the ending of The Tempest is happy or not. Holling... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling thanks Mrs. Baker for the cream puffs, and she smiles at him. Suddenly, Mrs. Bigio enters the classroom.... (full context)
December
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...take practice tests over the break, as to not embarrass the school with poor results. Mrs. Baker rolls her eyes. Mr. Guareschi reads a note from Mrs. Sidman as well, wishing everyone... (full context)
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All the teachers except for Mrs. Baker decorate their rooms. She takes down the menorah the first graders put on her door... (full context)
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The awfulness of December lifts one day when Mrs. Baker announces that Mickey Mantle, a famous Yankees baseball player, will be in town to sign... (full context)
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The next Wednesday, Mrs. Baker tells Holling that Mr. Goldman said that Holling is doing well, but needs to work... (full context)
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...the theater. Holling lurks backstage and scans the audience for faces he knows. He finds Mrs. Baker , Mrs. Bigio, and Danny Hupfer's parents. This is shocking: Holling reasons that the Hupfers... (full context)
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...face to face with Mickey Mantle. Mantle is sitting at a table with Mercutio Baker, Mrs. Baker 's brother-in-law. Holling thinks that Mantle looks huge as he watches him sign Danny's baseball.... (full context)
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In class, Mrs. Baker keeps her students on their toes. They diagram sentences and work on projects all the... (full context)
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Holling, Doug, and Danny run upstairs to find Mrs. Baker , but they find only a note on the door telling Holling to read Macbeth... (full context)
January
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...you. Holling insists the reader cannot possibly imagine it, and to add insult to injury, Mrs. Baker gives him a 150-question test on Macbeth. Mr. Vendleri tears most of the photos down... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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The next afternoon, Mrs. Baker returns Holling's test. She reminds him that several characters aren't actually the same, even if... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...than to see your own face in the pictures, and then says that it's not Mrs. Baker 's photo, and she doesn't have much to worry about. Her face turns white and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Because of the ice, buses trickle in all morning, which makes Mrs. Baker mad. To make matters worse, the school and much of the town have no power,... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...full and heavy with snow, and it finally begins to snow as school gets out. Mrs. Baker reads the class a memo from Mr. Guareschi before she releases them. It says that... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...asks to go to the restroom so he can take off his soaked thermal underwear. Mrs. Baker informs him that students cannot leave the test except for health emergencies, which Holling feels... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...Doug's brother tells Holling he's dead. Holling backs out of the bathroom and returns to Mrs. Baker 's classroom, still wearing his soggy underwear. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...it's snowing, but the snow turns to ice as soon as it hits the ground. Mrs. Baker teaches "strong verb systems" in the afternoon and doesn't call on Holling, even when he... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...the bus hits him. He opens his eyes to see his sister, Mr. Guareschi, and Mrs. Baker looking down at him. Mrs. Baker tells Heather to hold Holling’s head while Mrs. Baker... (full context)
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When Holling is settled, Mrs. Baker heads for the hospital. She drops Heather off at the Perfect House to inform Holling's... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling, Mrs. Baker , and Mr. Guareschi wait for hours. When a nurse turns on the television, Holling... (full context)
February
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...His threats are effective; they show up the next morning. At school, the ceiling in Mrs. Baker 's classroom has problems as well: it now sags and bulges in places as a... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker assigns Romeo and Juliet to Holling. Holling finds the entire play ridiculous and thinks that... (full context)
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...This is an expensive proposition; Holling guesses it'll cost Danny $17. On Wednesday, Holling and Mrs. Baker read the last two acts of Romeo and Juliet. She informs him that Romeo and... (full context)
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...Bigio baked Valentine's Day cupcakes, and class representatives can pick them up at 1 P.M. Mrs. Baker finally sends Holling to the kitchen at 1:18 P.M., where Mrs. Bigio gives Holling an... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...sunglasses to school, and Holling is the only one who doesn't laugh when she tells Mrs. Baker her doctor said she needs to keep them on for the rest of the year. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...Lee, and he proposes in his essay that you must be careful whom you trust. Mrs. Baker simply puts his essay in a folder. After school, Holling finds Meryl Lee waiting for... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...Romeo and Juliet essay, proposing that it's hard to care about two things at once. Mrs. Baker throws out his old essay and replaces it with the new one and asks Holling... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...over the next week. They're at the board together when Mr. Guareschi arrives to give Mrs. Baker a telegram. Mrs. Baker reads the telegram, drops it, and runs out of the room.... (full context)
March
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Mrs. Baker continues to conduct class with a business-as-usual attitude, and the class thrives. Mai Thi even... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...tiles. Holling, still terrified, wants to read sitting on his desk, and he wonders if Mrs. Baker secretly wants to be sitting on her desk too. He struggles to focus on the... (full context)
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...soothsayer says in order to tell Caesar that bad things will happen in the play. Mrs. Baker says that the observation will take place in a week—on the Ides of March. (full context)
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Holling struggles through Coach Quatrini's exercises the next few days, and on Wednesday, he tells Mrs. Baker that it'll kill him—especially since tryouts are on the Ides of March. Mrs. Baker insists... (full context)
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That afternoon, Holling thanks Mrs. Baker for helping him with his running and offers her some advice in return for her... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...Holling acts out the scene in which Julius Caesar gets stabbed, complete with sound effects. Mrs. Baker angrily insists that Shakespeare isn't just about stabbings and asks for the book. As Holling... (full context)
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One school board member asks Mrs. Baker what book she's giving Holling, and is relieved to learn that the expensive-looking volume is... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker puts a Shakespearean curse on the board for the class to diagram. She follows all... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...his parents take him to Washington, D.C. because they're so proud. The day he returns, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Bigio come into Mrs. Baker's class with nuoc mau, a Vietnamese dessert of... (full context)
April
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...Holling's classmates all throw wadded paper at him, and Holling explains that this happened because Mrs. Baker was in the office, learning that American troops have begun Operation Pegasus, an operation to... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...run in front of angry eighth graders: they pulled his pants down when he tried. Mrs. Baker doesn't understand why Holling won't run in front and takes the month of April to... (full context)
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...and asking his dad to sign it. Coach Quatrini barely agrees to excuse Holling, and Mrs. Baker assigns Holling his full day's work in the morning. At 12:11 P.M., eleven minutes after... (full context)
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Holling returns to Mrs. Baker 's classroom, humiliated beyond belief as his classmates trickle in after recess and realize what... (full context)
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...and Doug to come down. As the boys scramble over the fence, Joe Pepitone notices Mrs. Baker and asks if she's "that dame" who ran in Melbourne. Mrs. Baker admits she is,... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker asks the players to show them around the stadium, and they agree. When they finish... (full context)
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Two days later, a photo of Mrs. Baker , Danny, Doug, and Holling with the Yankees graces the front page of the Home... (full context)
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...his first lap, he sees Danny up and cheering, Meryl Lee with a rose, and Mrs. Baker standing next to her. He continues to trail the eighth graders lap after lap. On... (full context)
May
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...bomb, students must follow drill procedures exactly. The siren goes off on many afternoons, and Mrs. Baker instructs the students to sit hunched under their desks quietly in the dark for 18... (full context)
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When Mrs. Sidman praises Mrs. Baker 's class, Holling thinks it's kind of comforting. He notes that the eighth grade cross-country... (full context)
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...but Holling is so convinced of his genius he even admits his reading strategy to Mrs. Baker . She insists there are no boring parts in Shakespeare and tells him to read... (full context)
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...a bomb siren goes off again. As everyone scrunches under their desks, Danny snippily asks Mrs. Baker why she isn't under her desk. Holling explains that Danny's attitude is actually pure terror... (full context)
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...sirens go off again one Wednesday afternoon. Holling folds himself up under his desk, and Mrs. Baker declares that this is ridiculous. Holling asks Mrs. Baker if she'd call him "Holling" rather... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker declares the bomb drill ridiculous again. She heads to the Coat Room and Holling suddenly... (full context)
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Mrs. Baker drives to the north side of town, where she points out a Quaker meetinghouse from... (full context)
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...by the fact that people have been praying here for a hundred years. He asks Mrs. Baker if she orchestrated Kowalski and Associates getting the Yankees Stadium job. She refuses to answer.... (full context)
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Holling and Mrs. Baker light candles. He prays that bombs don't drop on his town and that Lieutenant Baker,... (full context)
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...the afternoon hiding around town, thinking about his sister and hiding from his dad and Mrs. Baker . (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...just let someone else find him. On the last Wednesday of May, Mrs. Sidman brings Mrs. Baker a telegram. Mrs. Baker shakily opens it and reads, "sweet eyes…stop." She makes a happy... (full context)
June
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Even though Mrs. Baker openly despises camping, she still agrees to take her class camping to celebrate the end... (full context)
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In the weeks leading up to the trip, Mrs. Baker keeps her class working hard. She even makes Holling read Much Ado About Nothing, which... (full context)
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...Thursday morning, Holling's class gleefully boards the bus and heads to the Catskill Mountains. When Mrs. Baker stops Doug's attempt to sing "One Thousand Bottles of Beer on the Wall," Holling insists... (full context)
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...and Holling stops getting poked in the back not long before they reach the campground. Mrs. Baker organizes the site: Doug digs a fire pit and then latrines (far away from the... (full context)
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...only one spoon with which to cook and eat. He dropped the can opener, too. Mrs. Baker leads Holling to the river, where they use sharp stones to split the cans open.... (full context)
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...plays Capture the Flag and then explores an abandoned house. Afterwards, it's even colder, so Mrs. Baker prepares hot chocolate. Mrs. Sidman grumbles about having only the spoon to turn over hamburgers... (full context)
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...all night. Mai Thi, Meryl Lee, and Holling help stoke the fire and sit with Mrs. Baker well past midnight. They don't say anything until suddenly, a downpour begins. There's no escaping... (full context)
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...warm up. Someone suggests swimming, and the entire class changes and heads for the river. Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Sidman supervise as the students all jump over the waterfall and into the... (full context)
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...However, after two meals of chili, he finally gives in. When he returns, Holling and Mrs. Baker notice that a cloud of mosquitos is following Doug. Mrs. Baker rolls her eyes, and... (full context)
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...front of the full synagogue at his bar mitzvah. Holling's dad even came, as did Mrs. Baker , Mrs. Bigio, and Mrs. Sidman. Danny pulls his prayer shawl around his shoulders. He... (full context)
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...seems different about Holling. Later, he goes to get Meryl Lee a Coke and finds Mrs. Baker standing with a strawberry, smiling. He tells the reader that he decided to break the... (full context)
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Holling says he doesn't want to know the future, but he asks how Mrs. Baker knows that Lieutenant Baker will come home. She reminds Holling of Don Pedro, standing alone... (full context)
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Eleven days later, Lieutenant Baker comes home. All of Mrs. Baker 's class is on the tarmac holding boxes of strawberries when the plane lands. Holling... (full context)