Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger
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First edition cover. Sideways Stories From Wayside School
|April 27, 1995|
|Media type||Print (in Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||166 pp (1st edition hardcover)|
|ISBN||0-380-72381-6 (USA paperback)|
|Preceded by||More Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School (1989)'|
Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger is a 1995 young adult, dark comedy, short story cycle novel by American author Louis Sachar, and the third book in his Sideways Stories From Wayside School series.
- Explanation: The cows that entered the school in Wayside School is Falling Down finally leave the school after 243 days, so the children all return to the school. Todd is the one who is the most excited about returning to Wayside School out of everyone else, as he was sent to the most horrible school he had ever been to. The narrator reveals that Todd had been sent to the reader's school.
- A Message From The Principal: Mr. Kidswatter says a nice speech on the PA system, but he forgets to turn it off and expresses irritation about having to return from his extended vacation to Jamaica.
- Poetry: The students all come up with poems about a specific color. Allison decides to write a poem about the color purple, but can't figure out a word that rhymes with "purple". Rondi is also having trouble with her poem as well. Rondi had decided to write a poem about the color blue, but can't find a good rhyming word for "blue". When the poems are turned in, it is revealed that all the students have made up very strange poems about the colors they chose, while Rondi decided to not write anything.
- Doctor Pickle: The chapter introduces Dr. Pickell (aka Dr. Pickle), a psychiatrist who uses a pickle-like stone to hypnotize people and use aversion therapy to break people's bad habits. Usually, he also adds a command to do an unusual thing when a particular person says a key word, such as when he helps a woman quit smoking by making her think her cigarettes feel and taste like worms, and then making her slap her husband's face when he says the word "potato." He is ultimately banned from practicing psychiatry and becomes a counselor at an elementary school...
- A Story with a Disappointing Ending: Paul is sent to visit the new school counselor (Dr. Pickell/Pickle) when he can't control his urge to pull Leslie's pigtails. Dr. Pickell/Pickle makes Paul think Leslie's pigtails are rattlesnakes, and also commands him to attempt to eat Leslie's ears (which will, to Paul, appear to turn into candy) when she says the word "pencil" in his presence. Leslie breaks her pencil, and borrows one from a classmate, however she goes about this without saying "pencil" despite not knowing that Paul would attempt to eat her ears off if she did so.
- Pet Day: All the students bring their pets to school. The pets have unusual names; one pet (Stephen's) is an orange named Fido. The confusion in the chapter is similar to Abbot and Costello's Who's on First.
- A Bad Word: After Mr. Kidswatter spills his coffee while opening a door, he declares the word "door" a bad word and requires everybody to call it "goozack" from that point forward. Todd shows up late to school, and, having not heard the announcement, says the word "door," thus earning himself his name on the board.
- Santa Claus: It is almost Christmas, but Kathy is the only one in the class who does not believe in Santa Claus. When Louis comes into the classroom dressed as Santa Claus, Kathy tries to prove that Santa Claus isn't real, so Mrs. Jewls' class decide to help Santa Claus out if he really isn't real.
- Something Different About Mrs. Jewls: The kids suspect that something is different about Mrs. Jewels when they notice that she's eating strange things and showing emotional love for everything that she sees. Mrs. Jewls leaves the school when she announces that she will be having a baby soon, leaving Mr. Gorf to substitute for her.
- Mr. Gorf: The kids wait for Mr. Gorf arrive to class, but soon they realize he's not there, so they decide to figure out what happened to him. Then they realize that Mr. Gorf accidentally locked himself in the closet, so they let him out of the closet.
- Voices: At first Mr. Gorf seems like a nice teacher, but then he reveals that he is the son of their original teacher, Mrs. Gorf. Mr. Gorf has the ability to take away one's voice by sucking it up a third nostril in his nose. He can then mimic it perfectly just by touching his nose.
- Nose: With his talent of mimicking, Mr. Gorf begins to call the students' mothers and say spiteful things to them until Miss Mush, the cafeteria cook, destroys Mr. Gorf's malevolent ability by smashing a pepper pie in his face, making him sneeze repeatedly until his nose comes off, causing the voices to return to their rightful owners (although it takes a few minutes for the voices and people to line up correctly, due to the number of voices taken). Miss Mush says that she heard Kathy say, "Have a nice day" in the previous chapter, and decides that either Kathy had started to be nice, or Mr. Gorf could steal people's voices. She took the action that she did, banking on Kathy's unlikeliness to start being nice. It is revealed at the end of the chapter that the voice used by Mr. Gorf at first belonged to a Scottish man, who lost his voice 20 years previously; with Mr. Gorf's loss of his nose, he is able to speak again.
- The New Teacher: The second of the substitutes, Mrs. Drazil, arrives. She appears nice, although it is suggested that she has a dark side.
- A Light Bulb, a Pencil Sharpener, a Coffeepot, and a Sack of Potatoes: Mrs. Drazil's class throws a light bulb, a pencil sharpener, a coffeepot and a sack of potatoes out a window to see which one lands first. The coffeepot was borrowed from Mr. Kidswatter's office, and has not been seen since the experiment. In a continuation of Paul's meeting with Dr. Pickell/Pickle, Leslie notes that the classroom will need a new pencil sharpener, upon which Paul licks her ear.
- An Elephant in Wayside School: All is well with Mrs Drazil and the students until an old feud between her and Louis re-emerges. Upon meeting Mrs. Drazil, Louis is forced to do a homework assignment he missed over 15 years previously and shave his mustache, and also gets the trash can put on his head when he insults her.
- Mr. Poop: With Mrs. Drazil watching him, Louis changes from being fun to being a boring, strict Yard Teacher (or, as he says, "Professional Playground Supervisor"). He refuses to let the kids play with the balls because they are filthy and not properly inflated, and later refuses to let the kids onto the playground because the blacktop is gray and needs to be painted black. A fed-up Joy throws his handbook into the paint can.
- Why the Children Decided They Had to Get Rid of Mrs. Drazil: The title is paradoxical to the entire plot. Mrs. Drazil acts very nice to the class and the reason isn't revealed until the end: despite her niceness to the class (including baking the best cookies the class ever tasted), the children loved Louis' old personality; consequently, Mrs. Drazil must be removed from the picture because she forced him to shave his moustache.
- The Blue Notebook: The students abscond with Mrs. Drazil's blue notebook, intent on reading it. In so doing, they realize that in order to get rid of Mrs. Drazil, they must find Jane Smith, a former student whom Mrs. Drazil dislikes more than Louis. Jane Smith left Mrs. Drazil a nasty note stating that she didn't do her homework (as found in the notebook, it was the 12th time in a row); also, she (at the time the note was written) was moving and wasn't going to tell Mrs. Drazil where. She closes her note by telling Mrs. Drazil to "rub a monkey's tummy with [her] head."
- Time Out: In every Wayside book, the 19th chapter is always portrayed as the 19th floor. In this installment, Miss Zarves has a cow in her class, presumably left over from the events in the previous book (It is mentioned in the first chapter that Louis had cleared the school of cows, but kept hearing an untraceable "moo.") The cow continually distracts Miss Zarves to the point where she can no longer teach. She goes to Principal Kidswatter to complain, but he doesn't see or hear her. She finally storms out of the school, intending to quit, but the three men with the attaché cases stop her and tell her she is a good teacher and that the school needs her. Miss Zarves returns to the school feeling validated.
- Elevators: Elevators get installed to the school, but one can only go up and one can only go down. They work perfectly ... but only once.
- Open Wide: Jason has a dentist appointment with Dr. Payne, but his appointment is interrupted by a phone call from the irate mother of a child named Kendall who refuses to pay for her child's tooth extraction because the wrong tooth was pulled, and it is also suggested that a lawsuit may ensue. It is suggested that Dr. Payne is really Jane Smith when she tells her to tell her lawyer to "rub a monkey's tummy with her head." This suggestion is confirmed when Jason looks at Dr. Payne's dental certificates.
- Jane Smith: Jason tells Deedee that he found Jane Smith, and they, quite intentionally, make Mrs. Drazil aware of Jane Smith's whereabouts, occupation, and name change. Later, Mrs. Drazil decides to pay a visit to Jane Smith's home, breaking into the house, intent on forcing Jane to do her missed homework. Jane escapes in a motorboat, but not without hurting her ankle when she jumps onto the concrete below; Mrs. Drazil pursues her in a rowboat. As far the novel has it, the two are neither seen again. (It is stated in this chapter that Jane performs unnecessary dental procedures to make additional money; she drills 25 teeth, at $60 each, to make $1,500, but not all of the teeth had cavities.)
- Ears: This chapter talks about Miss Wendy Nogard, who has an ear on the top of her head that can hear other people's thoughts. After her boyfriend Xavier Dalton ditched her upon discovery of her third ear, she became bitter and hateful, intentionally hurting every man she dated by listening to their thoughts, and saying things accordingly. (It is mentioned that Xavier, who had been shy, got over his shyness and began dating other women, but broke all of their hearts, because of an unrealized love for Miss Nogard.) She especially hated children because they were so happy, and became a substitute for Mrs. Jewls at Wayside School.
- Glum And Blah: Miss Nogard arrives in class and makes everybody go from cheerful to miserable by listening to their thoughts using her third ear and saying the exact things that they don't want to hear. Calvin spilled juiced on his lap and Miss Nogard whispered if he has to go to the bathroom. Dana got a haircut that made her hair look short and Miss Nogard mistook her on purpose for a boy. She also kept calling Jason by the name of his older brother, Justin, whom he hates. She hums a song D.J. heard on the radio, which he hates, whenever she passes him. Bebe had an itch on her leg and when she stopped thinking about it Miss Nogard would walk by and scratch her own leg; eventually Bebe's 'itch would start to grow crazy.'. Jenny was going horseback riding after school, but after Miss Nogard tells a lie about a nephew who went horse back riding on clear sky and then rain came and his arms and legs were broken, Jenny became really worried. Benjamin is also still very upset about his name and becomes even more upset when Miss Nogard couldn't understand it.
- Guilty: After Miss Nogard hears Maurecia's thoughts that she accidentally ripped a page in the dictionary, she purposely tries to make her feel guilty. Upon Maurecia's confession, Ms. Nogard makes her read both sides of the torn page to the class, then announces that there will be a test afterward, as the page is now unusable and must now be memorized, much to everyone's else anger and dismay. Maurecia believes that one of her classmates told on her.
- Never Laugh At A Shoelace: Mac forgets to bring something for show and tell, but the moment he realizes this, Miss Nogard calls on him. He thus uses his shoelace, much to his dismay. He invents a story about an African man named Howard Speed who was the fastest man in the world and lived before shoelaces were invented. His shoes thus kept falling off when he ran, and he developed blisters, which often bled and had pus in them. Howard couldn't use Velcro, as Velcro trees only grow in Australia (as Mac claims; Velcro is actually a man-made product based on burdock burs, and thus Velcro doesn't grow in Australia or anywhere else). Howard attempted to keep his shoes on by nailing his feet into his shoes, and then by gluing his feet into his shoes (with the drawback that he would peel off a layer of skin whenever he would take his shoes off, such as to take a bath). Mac further claims that Thomas Edison invented the shoelace, thus ending Howard's troubles with his shoes; however, with shoelaces being a new invention (at that time), Howard wasn't used to them, and when it appeared he was going to win a race, his shoelaces came undone, and he tripped and broke his nose, lost all his teeth and got two black eyes.
- Way-Up-High Ball: The Erics play a game of way-up-high ball, where they throw a ball to bounce on the school wall and get points equal to the number of stories the ball reaches. The person who catches the ball also scores the same number of points; thus, the thrower can score double points by catching his or her own throw. A player who breaks a window is also credited with double points. It is suggested, but not explicitly stated, that a thrower who does not hit the wall does not score (such an event is termed a "glopper"). Finally, Louis attempts a throw; the ball never comes back down, as it hits somewhere between the 18th and 20th stories, and there is no 19th story.
- Flowers For A Very Special Person: Louis brings in flowers, intending them for Miss Nogard, but ultimately gives them to Mr. Kidswatter instead. Under his breath, he calls Mr. Kidswatter a "maggot-infested string bean," and when asked to repeat what he said says "magnificent human being".
- Stupid: After Miss Nogard hears Ron's thoughts of not completing his homework, for every question they take up, she purposefully asks Ron for the answer to make him feel bad. She also always calls on people who got questions wrong, and assigns them three pages of homework, plus redoing the previous homework. Each student thinks everyone else is stupid and starts hating their best friends.
- The Little Stranger: Mrs. Jewls comes back with her baby girl, Mavis. Everyone except Wendy loses their anger and plays with her. When Wendy hears Mavis's thoughts, her anger disappears. She falls in love with Louis and shows everyone her third ear. Louis doesn't care and still loves Wendy, who knows that his love is genuine without reading his thoughts.
Mr. Gorf was the son of Mrs. Gorf, who tormented the students in Sideways Stories From Wayside School before being turned into an apple and eaten. He was born in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was never married, making his students think he wasn't related to Mrs. Gorf. He had three nostrils in his nose—the middle one had the power to suck people's voices out of them and make them his own. He then lost his own voice, along with the others, when he sneezed them all out, ultimately sneezing his own nose off. The voice he used when he first appeared was stolen from a Scotsman 20 years previously, and his real voice sounds like a French donkey with a sore throat. Even the Scotsman's voice is returned when Mr. Gorf loses his nose. He was so upset about them taking his mother away that he used the children's voices to call their mothers and tell them that they hate them.
Mrs. Drazil was 66 years old and weighed 124 lbs. She kept a blue journal of all the bad students she had had since she started teaching decades ago. She treated the Wayside School students nicely, but not her former students (including Louis).
Ms. Wendy Nogard
Wendy has an ear on top of her head that can hear thoughts. When she was dumped by her boyfriend Xavier, she began to make everyone's life miserable. Soon, it is revealed that Mrs. Jewls has had her baby. Wendy attempts throwing it out the window, but not before listening to its thoughts. And what she heard was pure love. She falls in love with Louis and shows everyone her third ear. Louis says he loves her too; she doesn't have to hear his thoughts, she can see it in his eyes.
Mr. Gorf, Mrs. Drazil, and Ms. Nogard all have backwards animal names: "Gorf" is "Frog" backwards, "Drazil" is "Lizard", and "Nogard" is "Dragon".