Wayside School (book series)

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This article is about the book series. For the TV series based on the books, see Wayside (TV series).

Wayside School is a series of three chapter books written by Louis Sachar, consisting of: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down, and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. The books tell the stories of a school built 30 floors high, with one classroom per floor, but no 19th floor. Each book contains 30 chapters.

In 1989, Sachar released two spinoff books of mathematics and puzzles interspread with stories: Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School and More Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School. In 2005, a television special loosely based on the books titled Wayside: The Movie aired, and was followed-up in 2007 by a Wayside animated series.

Background[edit]

While a student at University of California, Berkeley, author Louis Sachar began working at an elementary school to earn college credit.[1] Sachar later recalled,

Sachar graduated from UC Berkeley in 1976 with a degree in Economics, and began working on Sideways Stories From Wayside School, a children's book set at an elementary school with supernatural elements. Although the book's students were named after children from Hillside and there is a presumably autobiographical character named "Louis the Yard Teacher,"[1] Sachar has said that he draws very little from personal experience, explaining that "....my personal experiences are kind of boring. I have to make up what I put in my books."[2]

Characters[edit]

Students[edit]

There have been a total of 30 students on the 30th story;

  • Allison – Allison's best friend is Rondi. She owns a pet cat named Socks. In a chapter of Wayside School is Falling Down, when Allison got to school, everybody suddenly stopped noticing her, no matter how hard she tried, and she couldn't figure out why and got stuck on the 19th story for a week but stayed.
  • Bebe Gunn (a pun on BB gun) – Bebe's best friend is Calvin. She is the most talented artist in the classroom. She once pretended to have a little brother named Ray (a further pun on "ray gun"), who, due to the fact that he does not exist, is on the 19th story. She owns a pet bird named Picasso.
  • Benjamin Nushmutt – He joins the class in the second chapter Wayside School is Falling Down. Initially, everyone thinks his name is Mark Miller, but he is afraid to correct them because of shame over his real name. He reveals his true name to the class one day in Wayside School Is Falling Down; however, the kids think he's pulling a prank on the substitute teacher, so they still call him Mark. He eventually tells the class his real name at the end of Wayside School Is Falling Down, and the other children accept it with little fuss. He also admits he is from Hempleton, not Magadonia (a pun on Macedonia). Since his name is not really Mark Miller, a boy named Mark Miller lives on the 19th story, which does not exist. He owns a pet mouse named Handsome.
  • Calvin – He is Bebe's best friend. He draws very slowly, so he always works in conjunction with Bebe. He owns a pet cat named Mrs. Jewls. He also has a tattoo of a potato on his ankle.
  • Dameon – He is in love with Mrs. Jewls, and is Myron and D.J.'s best friend. In every story starring him, he is caught running up and down Wayside School's 30 flights of stairs and runs into an act with pencils at the end. He owns a pet ferret named Yorno.
  • Dana – She worries that she may have a crush on John. At one time she fears being mistaken for a boy with her bad haircut and unisex name. She owns a pet dog named Pugsy.
  • Deedee – She loves sports and owns a pet dog named Cat. She is Ron's best friend.
  • D.J. (a.k.a. Deej, Dojo, Dr. Jolly, Dumb Jerk) – He is happy all the time. His best friends are Myron and Dameon. He owns a pet dog named O.K.
  • The Three Erics – Three students with the same name, they are all given nicknames based for the other two Erics.
Eric Bacon – Bacon is the thinnest of the Erics, but he is called "Fatso" because the other two Erics are fat, and so it is assumed that all Erics are fat. He is also a good break dancer, but break dancing became restricted at Wayside School, because every time he danced, he broke something. He owns a pet dog named Billy. He is left-handed.
Eric Fry - Fry hangs out with the other two all the time. He is very athletic despite his big size, but he is called "Butterfingers" because he once dropped the ball during a game of baseball. His nickname also comes from the assumption that, since the other two Erics aren't very good at sports, all Erics are not good at sports. He is also the biggest kid in Mrs. Jewls' class. He owns a pet goat named Billy.
Eric Ovens – Ovens is the nicest of the Erics, but is called "Crabapple" because the other two Erics are constantly negative, so it is assumed that all Erics are mean. He owns a pet cat named Billy.
  • Jason – He is known for having the second largest mouth, and he is secretly in love with Allison. His best friend is Stephen. He chews on pencils a lot. He has an older brother, Justin, who's great at everything. He owns a pet cat named Socks. He is the help monitor.
  • Jenny – She is always late for school and wears a motorcycle helmet. She owns a pet dog named What.
  • Joe – He is John's best friend. Although he can find the correct answer to arithmetic problems, he does not know how to count, until one day he wakes up to discover he is suddenly able to count. He owns a pet hamster named Mino.
  • John – He is Joe's best friend and the smartest person on the 30th story. He could only read upside down, but after trying to learn to stand on his head, he suddenly could read right side up (but sees everything else upside down). John owns a pet frog named Yogurt.
  • Joy – Joy does not receive punishment in Sideways Stories From Wayside School, but is partially punished in Wayside School is Falling Down. Her best friend is Maurecia. She is always stealing lunches. Her favorite target is Todd. She owns a pet dog, which she named after Todd. Joy has the biggest mouth in the class.
  • Kathy – She is the "bad girl" of the class who loves to see bad things happen. She owned a pet cat named Skunks (he ran away), and now owns a skunk named Gross. Kathy hates everyone except for Sammy the dead rat.
  • Leslie – She has long pigtails and is Paul's best friend. Paul loved pulling her pigtails until the counselor brainwashed him into seeing her pigtails as rattlesnakes.. She owns a pet cat named Pajamas.
  • Mac (born Nancy) – He loves show and tell and telling long stories with no point, mostly about socks. He was originally very shy because his name was Nancy, but he traded names with a friend, a girl named Mac. He owns a pet dog, which he named after himself. The former Mac, now Nancy, is his girlfriend.
  • Maurecia – She likes ice cream, and everyone likes her. She is Joy's best friend. She owns a pet cat named Strawberry. She is the door monitor. Everyone in the class likes her except for Kathy. She acts like she hates Todd also and makes fun of him when he's not around. She secretly loves Todd. In the episodes on TV, she was said to become tough because of Mrs. Gorf and wore roller-skates since then. She punches Todd constantly. Also in Wayside School is Falling Down she finds a bag of money which she gives to a man named Mr. Finch who promises to give her free ice cream for the rest of her life. He gives Joy a pencil.
  • Myron – He went to the basement seeking freedom. He was class president for only one day, but he was the best one ever. Myron has rarely been in trouble. He is the only person in the entire school who likes Ms. Mush's cooking. He owns a pet chipmunk named Cheese and leaves food out for an odd bird named Oddly (though the bird isn't his pet, as Oddly is considered "free").
  • Paul – Although he loves to pull Leslie's pigtails, he is her best friend. He owns a pet pig named Tails, a play on Pigtails. His father is the security guard who protects the Mona Lisa.
  • Ron – He is a lousy kickball player and is Deedee's best friend. He owns a pet cat named Dog.
  • Rondi – She is Allison's best friend. She was missing her two front teeth which everyone thought made her look cute, until she grew two new front teeth. She owns a pet bird named Crackers.
  • Sammy – This student wore an unusually high number of raincoats on a particularly stormy day and smelled horrible. Mrs. Jewls eventually discovered that he was a dead rat in disguise who had sneaked into her classroom, and promptly disposed of him. Because of his terrible smell and nasty attitude, no one other than Kathy liked him.
  • Sharie – She wears an enormous red and blue overcoat so that she can sleep in class, due to having a non-stop life (of which Mrs. Jewls approves). She has very long eyelashes. She and Deedee are very close friends with Louis but this may be because Louis saved her life in the first book. She owns a pet turtle named Yorpet. She once brought a hobo for show-and-tell.
  • Stephen – He has green hair colored by pool chlorine. He consistently chooses poor outfits for school. In the first book, he seemed to be the leader of the class. He does not own a pet, so for pet day, he brought an orange which he named Fido.
  • Sue – She joins the class in Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School and is not featured in any of the novel books. She owns a dog named Fangs, who has big teeth. Although she loves staying in Wayside School, she is unable to understand the class's methods of teaching and they are unable to understand her "normal" methods of math when she tries to teach it to them, to the point of Mrs. Jewls suggesting that she go to a different school.
  • Terrence – He has earned a reputation as a bully who likes to kick balls over the fence. He owns a pet dog named Crazy.
  • Todd – He is good, but unfairly always gets in trouble and gets sent home at noon on the kindergarten bus every day. His mission is to see what the class does from noon to 2:00. He does not own a pet, so for pet day, he brought his baby brother, Ralphie.

Miss Zarves' students (non-existent)[edit]

  • Virginia- She is a grown woman who has been in Miss Zarves' class without going to the bathroom for 32 years.
  • Nick- a teenager who appears to be in high school and looks a bit like a football player.
  • Ray Gunn- Bebe's little brother, his name a pun on Ray gun.
  • Mark Miller- He is Benjamin Nushmutt's alias. Everyone in Miss Zarves' class thinks his name is Benjamin Nushmutt, mirroring the fact that everyone in Mrs. Jewls's class thinks Benjamin's name is Mark Miller. After Benjamin tells everyone his real name, everyone in the nineteenth story realizes Mark's real name.
  • Cow- A cow that somehow got into the 19th story. Miss Zarves doesn't like it in her classroom as it disrupts her class constantly.

Staff/Other Adults[edit]

This is a list of adults who are featured in the stories.

  • Mr. Kidswatter- He is the school principal and dislikes all the children. He frequently calls people by their wrong name and works on his rubber band ball.
  • Mrs. Jewls- After Mrs. Gorf was eaten, Mrs. Jewls became the teacher. She is the nicest teacher. She has a coffee can of Tootsie Pops as a reward for her students. She has a cat named MonkeyFace, is married, and has a baby daughter named Mavis. She is allergic to strawberries but likes strawberry yogurt.
  • Louis the Yard Teacher- Based on the author who once worked as a playground supervisor, Louis is kind to all the children and has a mustache of many colors. When Mrs. Drazil forced him to shave his moustache, he became professional and went by Mr. Louis but once it grew back, he was the normal Louis again. He has a crush on Miss Nogard and didn't care when he found out about her third ear. He is generally good-natured and the one adult students will turn to for help.
  • Mrs. Benjamin Franklin- Mrs. Franklin is a substitute teacher. She appeared to believe everyone's name was Benjamin, after Benjamin told her his real name and everyone thought it was a prank.
  • Mrs. Waloosh- Pronouncing her own name as Mrs. Valoosh, she is a world famous dancer who teaches the tango in the ballroom. She has a strong accent and the students, except Myron, enjoy her class.
  • Mr. Gorf- Mr. Gorf is a substitute teacher. The students feared him because of his similarity to their mean teacher's name although he appeared nice. He was in fact her vengeful son, and sucked the kids' voices up a third nostril in his nose in order to avenge his mother. His real voice sounds like a donkey with tonsillitis and a French accent.
  • Mrs. Gorf- She is the original teacher on the 30th story. She was able to turn the kids into apples, but the students managed to make her accidentally turn herself into one; she was then eaten by Louis. She then appeared on the monkey bars and as a potato salad in the following books. It is rumored that her evil lives in the classroom, or maybe in the basement. Her and her son's last name is "Frog" spelled backwards.
  • Mrs. Drazil- She was Louis' teacher in school, and she returns as a substitute. She seems nice, but holds grudges and carries an infamous blue notebook of things she never forgets. She leaves Wayside School to chase one of her former students, Jane Smith, and was never seen again. Her last name is "Lizard" spelled backwards.
  • Miss Wendy Nogard- Miss Nogard is also a substitute. She has a third ear on the top of her head which can read minds, a power she uses to make everyone else as miserable as her until she falls in love with Louis. The reason she became miserable and evil is Xavier Dalton, a man she met and loved. He loved her also, until she showed him her third ear, then he thought she was a freak, which Wendy heard. Her last name is "Dragon" spelled backwards.
  • Mrs. Day- She is the secretary. Mr. Kidswatter always refers to her as "Miss Night".
  • Miss Mush- She is the school cook and prepares some very unusual meals. Students are averse to her cooking, and her most popular hot lunch is "nothing," which she runs out of often. She is famous for her 'Mushroom Surprise', and in the cartoon she comes from her so-called Mamaland and has a pet rat called Sammy. Mushroom Surprise (according to the cartoon) made Todd fall in love with Mrs. Jewls, and in the book it made Ron kiss Deedee and Mrs Jewls.
  • Mr. Pepperadder- He is Miss Mush's assistant.
  • Miss Zarves- She is the teacher on the nonexistent 19th story. She imprisons her students by giving them 11 hours of busy work and 2 minute breaks to forget about life outside her classroom. She keeps them happy by rewarding them with A's. Feeling unappreciated, she leaves the school, but is convinced to return by the men with the attaché case.
  • Miss Worm- She is the grouchy teacher on the 29th story and apparently is a whiz at the sideways arithmetic as taught by Mrs. Jewls.
  • Dr. Pickell (a.k.a. "Dr. Pickle")- receives his nickname from the green pendant he uses to hypnotize students. He becomes the school psychiatrist who helps kids and makes them do strange things.
  • The Men with the Attaché Case- These three men appear in each book in strange places or at strange times to keep the school in order. One man is bald, and two have black mustaches.
  • David- Incorrectly called James by Mr. Kidswatter, is Mr. Kidswatter's chauffeur.

Other[edit]

  • Dr. Jane Payne (born Jane Smith) - Jason's dentist, a former student of Mrs. Drazil. She loves to pull out teeth to get more money out of their clients. She and her husband Sham Payne (possibly a pun of "champagne") married for money and Jane loves her cat and dog more than her husband. She escaped her former teacher, Mrs. Drazil, in a motorboat and they were never seen again.
  • Xavier Dalton - A shy young man who likes dogs and books by Charles Dickens. He and Miss Nogard fall in love and he proposes to her, but dumps her not long afterwards because he has discovered her secret third ear. He overcomes his shyness afterwards and notoriously breaks the heart of all the women he meets, unaware that the only woman he ever loved was Miss Nogard.
  • Papa Jewls - Mrs. Jewls' father, appeared in Teacher's Parent Conference.
  • Mavis Jewls - Mrs. Jewls' baby daughter, who Mrs. Jewls brings to visit her class at the end of Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger. When Miss Nogard hears Mavis' thoughts, the malice in her heart disappears.
  • Cows- The cattle that invade Wayside School at the end of Wayside School is Falling Down as a result of Mrs. Jewls' cowbell. They can only go up stairs, not down, and Louis is forced to get rid of them in the 243 days that passed between the second and third books.
  • Bob - A hobo whom Sharie brings for show-and-tell in chapter 5 of "Wayside School is Falling Down."

Story conventions[edit]

  • In Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School, it is revealed the characters add, subtract, and multiply words. The children at Wayside School have no concept of adding numbers until Mrs. Jewls teaches the kids 4+7=11, in numbers, not words.
  • If a student does something wrong once, Mrs. Jewls will write that student's name under the word DISCIPLINE. If a student does something wrong a second time, Mrs. Jewls will put a check next to that student's name. If a student does something wrong a third time, Mrs. Jewls will circle his/her name and send him/her home at noon on the kindergarten bus (which is very odd, as most students would seem to enjoy this). Despite only needing three strikes, Mrs. Jewls resorts to also adding a triangle when Sammy was disruptive. Despite being a good student, Todd is sent home every day on the kindergarten bus as a result of him always unfairly getting in trouble each day. Paul is also sent home on the kindergarten bus, but only once, after pulling Leslie's pigtails during class. Another time, when it looks like Joy was going to be sent home early, Todd thinks he is going to have company, but Joy ends up making up for her crime by kissing Jason on the nose so that he would come unstuck from the gum she put on his seat. Mrs. Jewls even sends herself home early for temporarily turning evil.
  • Goozack was another word for door in the book Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. After the principal ran into his office door and spilled coffee over his clothes, he said that the word "door" was a bad word. Anyone who said "door" would get in trouble. So he introduced the word "goozack" to replace the word door. Todd was the first student to break the new rule, only because he was late for school at the time and didn't hear the announcement. Later, when Mrs. Drazil said "door" and the students pointed out that she was to call it "goozack," she immediately said "Mr. Kidswatter is a 'goozack'" in retaliation.
  • In the episodes, Mr. Kidswatter also didn't like circles. He changed it to squares, but then realized his mistake when it was donut time, and changed it back.
  • In the episodes, Maurecia wears skates and a helmet, and is known for her affections to Todd which she shows by punching him. Dana is very smart and in the book known as hysterical, though she often shouts, "enough of the fun!", perhaps to stop herself from getting carried away.
  • Way-High-Up-Ball is a fictional game invented by The 3 Erics. To play you need a rubber ball and a tall building. It is played in the 27th chapter (titled Way-High-Up Ball) of Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger. One player throws a ball, and whichever level story it hits is how many points are earned by the thrower. Whoever catches it receives the same amount of points. (The thrower could thus earn as many as 60 points on one throw if they also catch the ball, or if they break a window, which counts for double points). A glopper is a ball that goes straight up and back down, never touching the wall (It is never stated whether a glopper counts for points for the height it reached, or for no points at all). For the game's last-ever appearance, Louis threw the ball, and it hit somewhere between the 18th and 20th stories and never came down since there is no 19th story.
  • In all 3 books in the Wayside School series, Chapter 19 differs strongly from other chapters. In the first book, that chapter is non-existent, in the second book, the 19th chapter takes up 3 chapters (all numbered 19) and based on Miss Zarves' classroom, a non-existent location (the last of these is followed by a chapter numbered 20, 21, and 22, all at once, about Mr. Kidswatter being called a "mugworm griblick" by one of the Erics; it is suggested that Eric Bacon did so, as he is the only Eric who writes left-handed, and the insult was written on the back of a haircut appointment card by a left-handed person). In the third book, Chapter 19 is also based on the non-existent location.
  • In all 3 books, Chapter 17 has the theme of things being done backwards. In the first book, John reads upside-down. The second book includes a chapter in which the paragraphs are read in reverse order, and the third book has a title which is paradoxical to its plot until the final sentences.
  • The last sentence of each book is "everybody _ooed." In the first book it says "everybody booed." (due to Louis telling them a bad story about a regular school) The second book ends in "everybody mooed," after Louis asks the cows in the building to leave. The third book ends in "everybody ooohed," after Louis kisses Miss Nogard and it doesn't say if they got married.

Other media[edit]

In 2005, Nelvana produced an hour-long television special loosely based on the books called Wayside: The Movie. The special was later spun off into a series titled Wayside, which aired on Nickelodeon and Teletoon from 2007 to 2008.

References[edit]

Sachar, Louis. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. New York: Avon Books, Inc., 1978.

  1. ^ a b c "Author Bio", Louis Sachar's Official Web Site, 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  2. ^ "Louis Sachar Interview Transcript", Scholastic.com, 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2007-07-18.