“Love and hate in seventh grade are not far apart, let me tell you.” In 1967 on Long Island, NY, Holling Hoodhood’s English teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him about as much as she loves William Shakespeare. How does he know? Because every Wednesday afternoon, when half his class leaves for catechism lessons and half leave for Hebrew school, Holling, the only Presbyterian, is left alone with Mrs. Baker…and Shakespeare. When Mrs. Baker first proposes that they read and study the Bard’s plays together, Holling is less than thrilled. But that’s before he discovers Caliban’s curses in The Tempest, or how to use lines from Romeo and Juliet to woo the fair Meryl Lee. Suddenly, Shakespeare doesn’t seem so stupid anymore. In fact, the long dead playwright’s words help Holling in all sorts of situations: facing a bullying neighbor, speaking up to his overbearing father, and winning a coveted place as the only seventh grader on the school’s new cross country team. And even though it’s harder to find comfort in plays while the Vietnam War rages on and Martin Luther King is assassinated, Mrs. Baker shows Holling that what Shakespeare wrote about wars and kings is just as relevant in 1967 as it was in 1587. Schmidt’s warm, solid autobiographical read is getting mad love from teachers and librarians because even though she’s prickly, Mrs. Baker is smart and cool (like we like to think we are) and well, it’s about the power of SHAKESPEARE! But don’t worry, Schmidt filled his story with lots of funny, subversive stuff for teens too–think Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story. Take a look at this one yourself and see if you agree that its a book that both a teacher AND a student could love.