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.


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]


The books primarily focus on the kids on the 30th floor, taught by Mrs. Jewls. There have been a total of 30 students on the 30th story.

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. 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.
  • In the first book, Chapter 22 is about The Three Erics. In the second book, the 22nd chapter (Chapter, 20, 21, and 22) is also about the three Erics. And in the series, the second half of Episode 22 is called The Three Erics.
  • 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.


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.