The Wednesday Wars

by Gary Schmidt

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Why was Holling able to get the cream puffs without having enough money?  

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Holling has several episodes with the cream puffs. The first time, he is threatened with death (or at least harm) by some of his classmates, including Meryl Lee, because Mrs. Baker gives him a cream puff, something nobody else in the class receives. They do not believe him when he says he did not eat it, even though he really did not, as he caused all the cream puffs to get covered in chalk dust. Unfortunately, the Wives of Vietnam Soldiers ate theirs, and reportedly all of them nearly choked to death because of the chalk dust covering them.

Holling takes the threats of bodily harm from his classmates seriously and saves his allowance to buy the cream puffs, but it is not enough. He asks the baker if he can trade work for the cream puffs he needs, but instead, the baker says he needs someone who knows Shakespeare, which just happens to be Holling. Holling is therefore cast as Ariel in a production of The Tempest and gets his cream puffs. However, before the class can eat them, two labs rats get into them and ruin the treat. Holling is back in hot water, forced to come up with cream puffs for the class, but for the second time is saved when Mrs. Bakers buys the cream puffs he needs. 

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Holling is able to get the cream puffs from the baker without enough money because he performs some Shakespeare for the baker. Earlier in the story, Mrs. Baker has some wonderfully delicious-looking cream puffs in the back of her classroom. She tells Holling that he may have one, if he cleans up her room really well. A 7th grader will do anything for food, so Holling cleans erasers like a fiend. Unfortunately the cloud of chalk dust settles on the cream puffs, which causes the kids who eat them to get sick. The kids threaten Holling and tell him he had better get them some clean cream puffs. Holling doesn't have enough money to buy them from the baker, so he offers to do some work for the baker. The baker tells Holling that he doesn't need any work done.

"What I should really need," he said, "is a boy who knows Shakespeare."  

Holling has just started reading Shakespeare with Mrs. Baker and announces that he knows Shakespeare. The baker is doubtful, but Holling successfully recites several passages from Shakespeare plays. The baker is impressed and gives Holling the twenty-two cream puffs that he needs.

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