Sideways Stories from Wayside School -or- Timeless Tales From Which Kids Still Learn by Chris Hays
Sideways Stories From Wayside School was first published in the late seventies as the debut of Louis Sachar. Louis spent nine months writing a book that did not gain attention for many years. Though the results of distribution did not lend this book becoming popular, Louis continued to write while doing part-time legal work. The childhood fanbase in which Louis developed created a demand for Wayside School that carried over into other forms of media.
Though ideas might have formulated in Mr. Sachar’s head while he worked at a real school, the creativity and magic at Wayside are very different. The zany antics of the students in the 30 stories might prove the perfect balance of realism and escapism which keep students reading this book 35 years later. The voice of this story can be noted in the introduction which provides the setting of the story.
This book contains thirty stories about children and teachers at Wayside School. But before we get to them, there is something you ought to know so you don’t get confused.
Wayside School was accidentally built sideways.
It was supposed to be one story high, with thirty classrooms all in a row. Instead it is thirty stories high, with one classroom on each story. The builder said he was very sorry.
The children at Wayside like having a sideways school. They have an extra-large playground.
As the story carries forward different students are able to laugh and relate to different characters. Each chapter is titled with a different character which tries to explain their little role within the class on the thirtieth story. Early favorites include; Joe who doesn’t count in order, but arrives at the correct answer, Sharie who is defended by the teacher for sleeping in class, and if they can keep up with a paradox… Calvin who is asked to do a ask that can’t be completed.
If children have not laughed out loud by chapter 10, they are usually done in by Paul’s story and logic. Paul sits behind Leslie whom has two very yankable pigtails. Paul finally comes to the conclusion that the punishment system will allow him two warnings before being sent home on the kindergarten bus. Which would allow an equitable yank to both the right and the left pigtails…or would it? Girls with pony or pigtails never fear, because Leslie is not the stereotypical victim in this story.
“Louis the Yard Teacher” might have an outdated mustache, Wayside lacks modern day technology, and the book is void of its nineteenth story. Yet, the themes of childhood transcend time and place making Sideways Stories From Wayside School an excellent retro-read for adults and a laugh out loud story for first time readers.
Chris Hays is in his fifteenth year working with elementary school students. Currently, he is the teacher librarian at Dresden International School. Chris consistently pursues different ways to engage students in books and stories. You could follow him on Twitter @dis_mrhays, but he hasn’t tweeted since opening the account.