Sideways Stories from Wayside School

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Sideways Stories from Wayside School
First edition
AuthorLouis Sachar
IllustratorDennis Hockerman (first edition)
Julie Brinckloe (second edition)
Adam McCauley (third edition)
Peter Allen (fourth edition)
CountryUnited States
SeriesWayside School
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherHarcourt Brace Jovanovich
Publication date
January 1, 1978 (first edition)[1]

May 6, 1985 (second edition) May 6, 2003 (third edition)

January 14, 2004 (fourth edition)
Media typePrint (in Hardcover and Paperback)
Followed byWayside School is Falling Down 

Sideways Stories from Wayside School is a 1978 young adult, dark comedy, short story cycle novel by American author Louis Sachar, and the first book in the Wayside School series.

The novel was later adapted into a Nickelodeon Television series, Wayside.


The story takes place in the fictional Wayside School. (Which is believed to be set somewhere in the New England area.) The school was designed to have one floor and have 30 classrooms, but due to a construction error the building is 30 floors high with one classroom each. However, there is no 19th floor. The story is about Mrs. Jewls's class on the 30th floor. Although not really stated in the book, the characters come from a wide array of racial/cultural backgrounds.


1. Mrs. Gorf
This chapter introduces the characters from Wayside School. They have a teacher named Mrs. Gorf, who, if they do something even remotely wrong or disruptive, turns them into apples. At times, Louis the yard teacher comes in and sees all the apples, and assumes that the students are kind to their teacher by giving her apples. She eventually turns all the students into apples, but the students, led by Todd, force her to change them back into students. She gets angry and tries to turn them into apples again, but Jenny holds up a mirror in front of Mrs. Gorf, and she turns herself into an apple. Louis then comes in, sees the apple, and eats it, not knowing it was Mrs. Gorf.
2. Mrs. Jewls
Mrs. Jewls becomes the new teacher after Mrs. Gorf is eaten. When she first sees the children, she pictures them as monkeys until the students convince her that they're not monkeys, but they actually liked it better before.
3. Joe
Joe is stuck inside at recess because he can't count in the correct order, even though he always ends up at the correct number. Mrs. Jewls explains after recess that Joe will one day wake up and be able to count correctly, and that if it weren't for school, it could take as much as 70 years before that happens. Next day, Joe wakes up and realizes he is indeed able to count correctly. It is revealed that he has 55,006 hairs on his head, all curly.
4. Sharie
Sharie has a big overcoat and sleeps throughout class. Mrs. Jewls doesn't care; she thinks students learn best when sleeping. One day in class, while sleeping, she falls out the window. Louis saves her at the last moment.
5. Todd
Todd always gets in trouble because he's always picked on by Mrs. Jewls when he does something wrong. While working in his workbook he is harassed by Joy. Suddenly, burglars rob the school, so Todd decides to give them Joy's workbook. Despite all this, he's sent home early on the kindergarten bus, but not without a standing ovation by his class this time.
6. Bebe
Bebe draws the fastest out of everyone in the class. (It is revealed that she can produce a picture of a cat in under 45 seconds, a dog in less than 30 seconds, and a flower in less than 8 seconds.) In one art class, with the assistance of Calvin, she makes 378 works of art in one hour (a new personal record), but Mrs. Jewls tells her that the quality of art is more important than the quantity (in fact if a single picture produced by a single person over the course of a lifetime is better than each of Bebe's pictures, the person with only one picture has produced more art than Bebe). Bebe subsequently goes home to begin a picture of a cat; she indicates that she probably will have barely begun by the next day.
7. Calvin
Calvin is sent by Mrs. Jewls to deliver a nonexistent note to the nonexistent Miss Zarves on the nonexistent nineteenth floor.
8. Myron
Myron becomes class president. He is demoted after being late for school after saving the life of Dana's dog Pugsy. Stephen becomes the class president after Myron.
9. Maurecia
Maurecia eats ice cream every day for lunch. After Maurecia has tried all the ice cream flavors, she no longer likes ice cream, so Mrs. Jewls makes ice cream for everyone, and each flavor – named for each student – tastes like whatever the student tastes when they are not eating anything! Her favorite flavor is Todd. (the Wayside TV series extends this by having Maurecia have a crush on Todd.)
10. Paul
Paul is unable to resist the temptation to pull Leslie's pigtails. When he pulls on them, Leslie yells out in pain. He pulls one of her pigtails, earning him his name on the board, and then, after a brief struggle (including a hallucination of the other pigtail talking), he pulls the other pigtail, thus earning him a checkmark. He figures that he can pull Leslie's pigtails twice a day with impunity, until Leslie yells out in pain again. Paul's name is then circled and he is sent home early; it is suggested that Paul did not actually pull Leslie's pigtails the third time, and that Leslie's yell was unprovoked so he would go home.
11. Dana
Dana is suffering from an insane number of mosquito bites. Mrs. Jewels turns the mosquito bites into numbers so that they don't itch anymore.
12. Jason
After Jason gets Joy in trouble for chewing gum, Joy puts her chewing gum on Jason's chair and Jason is stuck to the chair. After many unsuccessful attempts to get Jason unstuck from his chair, Joy kisses him on the nose, causing him to fall out of his chair. Joy was to be sent home early (without being allowed the usual third chance) for getting Jason stuck to his chair, but because she got him unstuck, her punishment was rescinded.
13. Rondi
Rondi is a student who is missing her front two teeth. She is very confused when other people compliment her about the non-existent things she has (particularly her missing two front teeth). When Louis compliments her on her two missing front teeth, she becomes fed up and bites him. It is said that a bite with missing teeth is even more painful than one with the teeth still in place.
14. Sammy
A new kid named Sammy comes to Wayside School, but something about him doesn't seem right, due to his smell and many raincoats. His name is placed on the board, checked, and circled, in the usual manner, because he not only refuses to remove his raincoats, but also insults Mrs. Jewls. (In an unusual extension of Mrs. Jewls' violation notation system, a triangle is added around his checked and circled name for a fourth violation.) After removing all of Sammy's raincoats, it's discovered that Sammy's actually a dead rat. Because Mrs. Jewls dislikes dead rats, he is thrown away.
15. Deedee
Deedee just can't seem to get a high-bouncing green ball (or even a red ball, which doesn't bounce as high, although high bounces aren't always desirable) at recess because she's on the highest floor and gets downstairs after students from other classes. She disguises herself as a rat (knowing Mrs. Jewls' dislike of them) to get down to the playground and be able to get a green ball. (Todd is in on the plan, and is consequently sent home on the kindergarten bus when Mrs. Jewls finds out.)
16. D.J.
D.J. is happy, and it spreads through the whole class, but he won't tell why. His explanation is that no reason is required to be happy.
17. John
John can only read upside-down. Mrs. Jewls says that the only solution is to stand on his head. When he attempts to stand on his head, he falls over, evidently flipping his brain over, thus allowing him to see words right-side up (except now he sees everything else upside-down).
18. Leslie
Leslie can't figure out what to do with her toes since she thinks they're useless. She tries to sell them to Louis for 5¢ each (a total of 50¢), but then he lowers the offer price on her three smallest toes (on each foot) to 3¢ each (a total of 38¢). When Leslie won't sell the small toes at that price, Louis offers her 10¢ total for the two big ones; she refuses to sell her toes unless as a complete set, thus losing the deal.
19. Miss Zarves
Miss Zarves is the teacher of the nineteenth floor of Wayside school. However, there is no nineteenth floor of Wayside School, which means there is no Miss Zarves. The chapter is only three sentences long ("There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story. Sorry").
20. Kathy
Kathy hates everyone, especially the reader (even though she hasn't met the reader), and she hates everybody all for a specific excuse (with the exception of Sammy, who, as it was revealed six chapters earlier, was a dead rat). It is indicated that she actually creates the excuses by her own actions; she is hit in the face by a ball from Dameon because she closes her eyes and allows it to hit her, and she dislikes Alison's cookies because one that Kathy left in her own desk for three weeks became stale and old. She also locks her cat in her closet to prevent it from running away, but in a few days when she opens her closet, her cat does run away, and Kathy says she'll never get another cat as long as she lives. That was why Kathy didn't like Mrs. Jewls.
21. Ron
Ron wants to play kickball, but nobody wants to play with him because he's not a great kicker. Louis teams up with him against the whole class; Ron is the pitcher, and Louis plays all of the other positions. The chapter ends with Louis chiding Ron for his poor kicking; Ron punches him.
22. The Three Erics
There are three students in Mrs. Jewls class named Eric: Eric Bacon, Eric Fry, and Eric Ovens. All three Erics have negative, stereotyped nicknames that reflect the opposite of their personalities. Eric Bacon, the skinniest child in the class, is nicknamed "Fatso", Eric Fry, the best athlete in the class, is nicknamed "Butterfingers", and Eric Ovens, the nicest student in the class, is nicknamed "Crabapple".
23. Allison
Allison has two personalities; a kind-hearted and logical one, and an aggressive and superior one. She supposedly punched Rondi's front two teeth out. Throughout the chapter, teachers are constantly borrowing stuff and asking for help from Allison.
24. Dameon
Mrs. Jewls wants Louis to join the class to watch a movie. Dameon has to repeatedly run up and down the stairs when Louis asks questions about the movie, which is about turtles. As a result, he misses the movie; ultimately Louis declines to watch the movie because he doesn't like turtles as they are slow. Afterward, Dameon couldn't find his pencil so the whole class looks, but Louis had it.
25. Jenny
Jenny arrives at school late, but there is no one there, except for three strange and mysterious men. It is revealed at the end of the chapter that she came to school on a Saturday.
26. Terrence
Terrence wants to play other kids but doesn't know how to play any ball game, so he always kicks the ball over the fence, following it up with an insult that rhymes when the other kids complain. Ultimately, there are no balls left, and the kids get Louis to kick Terrence over the fence.
27. Joy
Joy forgot her lunch, so she steals Dameon's, eats it, and lies about it. In the process, she gets four other students into trouble. In the end, Joy's mother brings Joy her lunch to school; Joy lets Dameon have her lunch. Due to the guilt she feels, any of the food items she took (which included a turkey sandwich, a piece of chocolate cake, and an apple, plus an extra Tootsie Roll pop she sneaked from Mrs. Jewels' coffee can after being given one as a reward for finding the missing lunch and sharing her own) tastes like Miss Mush's porridge (Miss Mush is the Wayside school cook and her porridge is just a bowl of hot mud).
28. Nancy
Nancy (who is a boy) trades names with his girlfriend Mac (from the 23rd floor, who is a girl), but when the rest of the class hears about this they want to trade names as well. They do so, but due to the confusion created, nobody knows their new name. Ultimately, everyone in the class agrees to just use their original names. Only the three Erics are unsure of what their original names were.
29. Stephen
Stephen is the only one dressed up for the Halloween party, which does not happen on Halloween, since Halloween falls on a Sunday that year. The ghost of Mrs. Gorf appears for the Halloween party for her revenge. Then Stephen hugs her and she disappears.
30. Louis
Louis tells a story to Mrs. Jewls' class when recess is canceled due to a blizzard about a bunch of normal kids in other schools which the children at Wayside consider weird, just like the prologue said.


Currently, the book has sold over four million copies.[2]