This is a Newberry Honor book by Gary D. Schmidt. And it is fantastic! Holling Hoodhood is in seventh grade; his teacher is Mrs. Baker. She hates him. She makes him read Shakespeare. Only him. You see, every Wednesday afternoon, half of Holling's class goes to Hebrew school at Temple Beth-El. The other half leaves for Catechism at St. Adelbert's. Holling, however, is Presbyterian. That leaves him alone in the 1967 Long Island classroom with Mrs. Baker.
Mrs. Baker becomes a mentor to Holling rather than just a teacher. Holling's growth in many areas is delightful to see. We also get a glimpse of the current events of that era (the Vietnam Conflict, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Cold War) and how those events affected suburban families. I have talked this book up to my kids, but made them wait until I finished. A great book.