Book Review: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Something brought Wayside School up in conversation recently–I’ve forgotten what–and reminded me how much I enjoyed these very silly books when I was a kid.  So I put all three – Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School Is Falling Down, and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger on reserve from the library.  The first two arrived quickly and I read them even more quickly–and they’re still very silly and fun.

Written by Louis Sachar (probably better known for Holes), the Wayside School books are about a school that was built sideways.  Instead of 30 classrooms one story high, the school is 30 stories high with one classroom per floor.  Also, there’s no 19th story.  The class on the 19th story is taught by Miss Zarves, and there’s no Miss Zarves either.  The books focus on the class at the top of the school, with each student getting their own chapter (more or less).

You can’t overthink the logic here.  Actually, you can’t apply logic at all, because it would just spoil the whole thing.  Mostly real world (ish), the books have occasional fantasy elements, including a teacher who turns students into apples.  Possibly my favorite story (in the second book), is when a student finds herself on the 19th story, trapped in Miss Zarves’ class.

Each chapter is only a few pages, and is mostly an independent short story focusing on one student.  Some elements will carry through, more thematically than in plot, but mostly these are tiny, silly stories.  I forgot how short they were–I think I was much younger the last time I read these books, and I remembered some of the stories as considerably longer than they are!  This would probably be great for early readers–the book has more to it than an I-Can-Read Book, but it’s still structured for quick reading.

As I recall, the third book is slightly more continuous in its plotline…although I might misremember that, as I thought the others were a little more extensive in their plots!  We’ll see–the next book is waiting for me at the library 🙂

One thought on “Book Review: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

  1. Ah, these were THE formative books from elementary days. I loved them, and I still have these three books sitting on my bookshelf. Our teacher read them to us in class, and then we had a project where we created our own Wayside book, each student writing one chapter about a character based on themselves. We put all the chapters together and each student got a printout of the whole thing to bind into a ‘real’ book. Good times.

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