Holling, clean out Sycorax and Caliban's cage today...
Holling Hoodhood lives with his parents and sister in “the perfect house” on Long Island, New York. He is just beginning seventh grade at Camillo Junior High with the strict Mrs. Baker as his homeroom teacher.
Sometimes it feels as if life is governed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
When the other students leave for religious education on Wednesday afternoons, Holling is the only student left in class. Holling believes that his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him for this and is out to make his life miserable.
First Mrs. Baker gives Holling chores to keep him busy. Then she assigns him Shakespeare plays. The lessons of the plays seem to connect to his life. Holling navigates bullying, community theater, and sports, alongside fears about the Vietnam War. Holling's father keeps tensions high in the Hoodhood household, causing Holling’s older sister to run away.
One Wednesday, Mrs. Baker takes Holling on an architectural tour of his city. During the tour, he realizes there is more to architecture than money and prestige as his father thinks. Holling reassesses his priorities; he realizes that he cares about his friends and Mrs. Baker and misses his sister Heather.
Is there anything else we can do?
Holling cashes in his savings bond to help his sister return home. He goes on an end-of-the-year class field trip, and later attends Danny Hupfer’s bar mitzvah.
Holling stands up to his father, telling him that being a man is about more than a good job. The story ends on a happy note with Holling confident in himself, surrounded by friends, and watching as Mrs. Baker’s husband returns home safely from Vietnam.