On Wednesdays afternoons half of Holling's class leaves school early for Catechism class. The other half leaves early for Hebrew School. That leaves Presbyterian Holling alone every Wednesday afternoon with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. Neither of them is happy at the prospect, and Holling is sure Mrs. Baker hates him as a result. At first Mrs. Baker just has Holling clean erasers, but then decides to make better use of the time by introducing him to Shakespeare. And as events in the larger world during the 1967-'68 school year unfold in the background, Holling begins to learn about himself, his family, friends, and the mysterious adult world.