Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar, 1978.

The books in the Wayside School Series are collections of short, funny stories about a school that was accidentally built sideways.  Instead of being a one-story school with thirty classrooms all in a row, Wayside School is a thirty-story school with only one classroom on each floor (the compensation is the extra-large playground).  Also, they accidentally left off the 19th story.  Strange things happen at the school.  Even stranger ones happen on the non-existent 19th story.  But, the stories mostly focus on the kids on the top floor of the school.

WaysideStoriesPic1Each of the books contains thirty stories, like the school (ha, ha!).  It would take awhile to describe them all, but there are stories about each of the kids in Mrs. Jewls’s class.  Mrs. Jewls took over the class on the 30th floor after Mrs. Gorf accidentally turned herself into an apple.  She used to turn her students into apples when they made her mad, but most forms of revenge backfire eventually.  Mrs. Gorf ends up turning herself into an apple when one of her students holds up a mirror, and then, Louis the yard teacher eats her.

Mrs. Jewls is a much better teacher.  She helps Joe learn to count.  Joe can usually only get the right answer when he counts numbers in the wrong order.  She helps John learn to read right-side up instead of upside down.  She teaches Bebe that when it comes to art, quantity doesn’t equal quality (although Bebe did have a pretty good system going there for awhile) and cures Dana’s mosquito bites with the power of arithmetic.  Mrs. Jewls even invents new flavors of ice cream when Maurecia gets tired of every flavor in existence.

The students in Mrs. Jewl’s class are pretty amazing, too.  Todd saves the day when confused bank robbers burst into the class.  Sharie shows her intelligence by sleeping in class, D.J. smiles constantly, and Kathy hates everyone and everything.  Rondi is cute for the things she doesn’t have (like her two missing teeth) and the stuff she doesn’t do (everyone laughs when she doesn’t tell a joke), but what can she do about it?  Paul just wants to pull Leslie’s pigtails, and Leslie thinks maybe she should sell her toes because she can’t find a use for them.

WaysideStoriesPic2Mrs. Gorf does make one more reappearance on the Friday before Halloween.  Mrs. Jewls and the children argue that she can’t haunt the school if it’s not Halloween, but when Halloween falls on a weekend, schools have to have their Halloween party on the Friday before.  Stephen’s just happy that the ghost of Mrs. Gorf justifies his costume.

As Louis the yard teacher says, “It has been said that these stories are strange and silly.  That is probably true. However, when I told stories about you to the children at Wayside, they thought you were strange and silly. That is also probably true.”  Fair is fair.


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