Holling Hoodhood has to spend his Wednesday afternoons with Mrs. Baker, because he is not allowed to go to where the other students in his school have to go. Holling attends a school that is a mixture of Catholic and Jewish students. Holling is neither. On Wednesdays, the Jewish students go to Hebrew school and the Catholic students go to catechism.
"So being a Presbyterian was now a disaster. Especially on Wednesday afternoons when, at 1:45 sharp, half of my class went to Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El, and, at 1:55, the other half went to Catechism at Saint Adelbert's. This left behind just the Presbyterians. Of which there had been three, and now there was one.
Because Holling can't go with the Catholic students or the Jewish students, he has to spend the rest of the afternoon with Mrs. Baker. Holling and Mrs. Baker are not happy with the arrangement. For the first month or so Mrs. Baker makes Holling do menial tasks such as cleaning chalk erasers. Eventually she decides to teach Holling Shakespeare, and that begins a strong and long lasting bond between the two of them.