Wayside School is Falling Down

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Wayside School is Falling Down
Sachar - Wayside School is Falling Down Coverart.jpg
4 edition
Author Louis Sachar
Illustrator Joel Schick (first edition)
Adam McCauley (second edition)
Country United States
Language English
Series Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Subject the school is falling down
Genre Children's literature
Publisher Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
(HarperCollins imprint)
Publication date
March 22, 1989
Media type Print (in Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 179 pp (1st edition hardcover)
ISBN 0-688-07868-0 (hardcover)
OCLC 17620889
LC Class PZ7.S1185 Way 1989
Preceded by Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978)
Followed by Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger (1995)

Wayside School is Falling Down is an 1989 children's novel by American author Louis Sachar, and the second book in his Wayside School series. Like its predecessor, it contains 30 chapters, although some chapters are interconnected in a more narrative form rather than as separate stories, as is the case for its predecessor. The title comes from the title of the favorite song of one character, Kathy, in the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down, during the course of the book. The novel revolves around three main storylines: first is the introduction of a new student, Benjamin Nushmutt, while another involves Miss Zarves, the teacher of the nonexistent 19th-floor class. The thirtieth and final story-line, told in the final chapter of the book, ends in a cliffhanger.


1. A Package For Mrs. Jewls: Louis brings a package containing a computer meant for Mrs. Jewls up to her classroom. She then drops it out the window as part of the lesson she’s teaching on gravity.

2. Mark Miller: A nervous new student named Benjamin Nushmutt joins Mrs. Jewls' class. Because he feels ashamed of his name, he eventually convinces himself that it's actually Mark Miller. Louis brings in Benjamin's lunch and must leave it on the teacher’s desk since there’s apparently no one to claim it.

3. Bebe’s Baby Brother: Bebe writes nasty notes on her homework about Mrs. Jewls and blames it on her nonexistent younger brother Ray Gunn. He actually is later revealed to be on the nineteenth floor, but there is no nineteenth floor.

4. Homework: Mac disrupts Mrs. Jewls' lesson on decimals with a wild story about him mismatching and losing his socks. Next, he disrupts a lesson on dinosaurs with stories about watermelons. In the end, Mrs. Jewls gives up and assigns extra homework, which Mac complains about to Nancy.

5. Another Story About Socks: Sharie brings in a hobo named Bob for show-and-tell. Bob tells a little bit about his life story and expresses a distaste for socks due to once winning a spelling bee without wearing any. When he leaves, the students take this notion to heart right before their weekly spelling test.

6. Pigtails: Paul struggles with his desire to pull Leslie’s pigtails. When she announces that she’s getting her hair trimmed soon and promises to save him some split ends, Paul gets excited enough to knock himself out the window. Finding no other means to reel him back in, Leslie extends Paul her pigtails to save his life.

7. Freedom: Myron wishes to be free like a wild bird he befriends, whom he names Oddly. He attempts to satisfy this desire by wandering into and getting lost in the school basement. He throws both his shoes into the darkness while being pursued and then makes a run for it, eventually meeting the men with the attaché case. They give Myron an ultimatum: to be safe or free. Myron chooses to be free; gets one shoe back; and finds his way back to Mrs Jewls’ classroom. She later finds his other shoe in the refrigerator of the teachers’ lounge.

8. The Best Part: Todd brings a toy dog to class that keeps him out of trouble and can transform into a vicious wolf. In her bid to use that toy to her advantage, Joy misses that last detail and gets her pinkie chomped on.

9. Mush: The lunch special for the 18th day in a row is Mushroom Surprise. Ron surprises everyone by ordering just that, which causes him to temporarily fall in love with and even kiss the mouth of the first person he sees: Deedee. The chapter ends when Mrs. Jewls enters the now-empty cafeteria just as Ron takes another bite.

10. Music: Benjamin tries to tell the class his real name, but his attempts are drowned out by the class during Music day. Each time Benjamin tries to tell Mrs. Jewels, the loudness of the class prevents her from hearing him. Every time she tells him to speak louder, the class interprets this as an instruction to play their instruments louder, further hampering Benjamin's attempts. Finally, Mr. Kidswatter, the principal of Wayside, comes to Mrs. Jewels class to report of numerous noise complaints from the classrooms below. However, Mrs. Jewels misinterprets this complaint as a request to play even louder. Benjamin finally gets into the music class and decides to continue to use his alias, feeling that "Mark Miller" is a better person than Benjamin Nushmutt.

11. Kathy And DJ: DJ becomes upset when he loses a watch given to him by his great-grandfather. Kathy tries to no avail to make him feel worse about it in order to amuse herself and only ends up even more dumbstruck when she finds out why he’s upset: because he feels a bird may mistake it for food and choke on it. Eventually, Myron’s bird friend Oddly finds it, and DJ rewards it to Kathy, mistaking her taunts for comfort. First time Kathy sings about the school falling down to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down.

12. Pencils: Jason has a bad habit of chewing pencils. Mrs. Jewls solves the problem (until further notice) by literally taping his mouth shut.

13. A Giggle Box, A Leaky Faucet, And A Foghorn: Joe and John poke fun at Dana for laughing and crying at animal stories, calling her “giggle box” and “leaky faucet”. To add insult to injury, they even give her a box of tissue paper as a wrapped package like she’d get on her birthday. When Mrs. Jewls reads a story about a skunk whose mother is run over, Dana blows her nose hard enough to warrant the nickname “foghorn”. Mrs. Jewls actually admires the girl’s emotions and wishes more students could be as appreciative of stories as her. Dana then fears having a crush on John.

14. Calvin’s Big Decision: Calvin announces that he’s getting a tattoo for a birthday present. Despite other suggestions, he settles for a potato tattoo on his ankle.

15. She’s Back!: The students of Mrs. Jewls’ class claim to see Mrs. Gorf at random times on random spots around the playground. After relating his own bad experiences of his old teacher Mrs. Drazil, Louis watches for the former teacher while Deedee hangs from the monkey bars. Everyone feels assured when Mrs. Gorf does not seem to appear, though they ignore a larger set of footprints under the bars, made right next to Deedee’s prints.

16. Love And A Dead Rat: Dameon denies being in love with Mrs. Jewls. To prove the opposite, he takes up a dare to leave a dead rat in her desk. The two reason these dealings and reconcile enough to disgust the rat back to life that it walks out.

17. What?: Jenny comes late to class one day after reluctantly drinking prune juice during breakfast. Upon arriving at class, she only manages to hear the punchline to the silly story. Not understanding the premise leading to the joke, Mrs. Jewels suggests that she reads the story in reverse so she can instead be surprised by the set-up since she knows the ending. Following Mrs. Jewels's suggestion, at the end of her reverse reading, she ends up regurgitating her prune juice. The chapter is written in reverse and can be read in proper sequential order when each paragraph is read from the last to first.

18. The Substitute: Mrs. Jewls’ class gets a female substitute teacher who’s named Miss Franklin, whom the students plot to prank. When “Mark Miller” decides to tell everyone that his real name is Benjamin Nushmutt, they merely add it to the prank by pretending that they too are all named Benjamin. When the teacher reveals her own name, the students are not sure what to think.

19. A Bad Case Of The Sillies: Allison wonders if maybe her homeroom is in fact on the 29th story since there’s no 19th. After getting knocked down the stairs a short way by Ron and Deedee and her jacket torn, Allison proceeds to class and finds everybody ignoring her, especially when Jason accidentally swallows his pet goldfish. A frustrated Allison leaves the room and finds herself inducted into the classroom of Miss Zarves.

19. A Wonderful Teacher: Allison meets three other students of Miss Zarves’ classroom: a grown woman named Virginia; a teenage boy named Nick; and a slightly younger boy named Ray (Bebe’s made-up brother). None of these three remember where they originally came from but don’t care since Miss Zarves gives A’s no matter which answers are right or wrong. Allison soon starts forgetting her own origins while the teacher provides an extremely difficult assignment of writing down numbers from zero to one million and then alphabetizing them. During a two-minute break, Allison meets Mark Miller, who – in a twist of his counterpart in Mrs. Jewls’ class – is often called Benjamin Nushmutt.

19. Forever Is Never: Allison continues struggling to remember her origins while other students memorize the dictionary. She then realizes how Miss Zarves’ system works: assign lots of work so the students have no time to think; make them memorize stupid things so that they forget what’s important; and give good grades no matter what to keep them happy. Allison then proceeds to reenact some of her old classmates’ mannerisms to frustrate Miss Zarves and leave that room. Following a sharp stabbing pain in her gut and foot, Allison wakes up back at the bottom of the stairs where Ron and Deedee pushed her! She then realizes she might have ended up in a dream or a time warp. They apologize, and all proceed to their homeroom where Jason introduces his goldfish.

20, 21, & 22. Eric, Eric, & Eric: Mr. Kidswatter holds a card from Charley’s Barber Shop with the message “Mr. Kidswatter is a Mugworm Griblick”, signed by someone named Eric. He suspects the three Erics in Mrs. Jewls’ class. Despite his tough questioning, all only end up leaving him holding the bag.

23. Teeth: Rondi grows in her missing front teeth and thinks she no longer looks cute. A conflict against Terrence to have him return Stephen and Jason’s ball ends up revealing her new teeth to everyone, compliments abounding. Rondi then remembers that her new teeth are useful and then ducks when Terrence tries punching her to solve her problem.

24. Another Story About Potatoes: Joe orders some potato salad from Miss Mush. He and John then shape it into Mrs. Gorf’s face, and it immediately comes alive. They triumph over this menace by eating it.

25. A Story That Is Not About Socks: Stephen dresses up in a leisure suit for Class Picture Day, contrasting the silly outfits that his classmates and Mrs. Jewls wear. He shows the class that if he tightens his tie, he looks more handsome. The kids find it very funny and encourage him to tighten his tie even more, and Stephen does so, which makes him choke the more tighter he pulls his tie, until he pulls his tie so tight that it rips in half. Stephen fears that he no longer looks good, but Mrs. Jewls points out that if he needs to look important, he'll have to wear expensive underwear instead of a tight tie.

26. The Mean Mrs. Jewls: Mrs. Jewls teaches the class the capital of England, seven plus four, and how to make pickles. A voice in her head tells her to be rotten whenever the students do something wrong, regardless how or what she teaches. After Leslie answers a question wrong, Mrs. Jewls threatens to dump brine on her until Paul intervenes, drenching the teacher instead. As punishment for acting so cranky, Mrs. Jewls sends herself home early on the kindergarten bus.

27. Lost And Found: After Joy steals and eats her lunch, an unsuspecting Maurecia goes looking for it and finds a paper bag containing $20,655. Joy insists on spending it for themselves if not for Maurecia’s honesty. A former pencil maker named Mr. Finch, whom the money belongs to, comes along to give Maurecia $500 and promise her free ice cream from his future ice cream parlor as tokens of appreciation. An opportunistic Joy mentions her involvement of the recovery by admitting she stole Maurecia’s lunch and is given only a pencil.

28. Valooosh: A dance teacher named Mrs. Waloosh teaches all of Mrs. Jewls’ students (except Myron since he ditched and went to gym class instead) the art of ballroom dancing. But it turns out, the session of the day is learning how to dance the tango, in which everyone enjoys. When the session ends, the participants end up injured; great at said doing the tango; and speaking in the same accent as the new teacher.

29. The Lost Ear: Benjamin once more attempts telling the class his real name, but then Mac tells a story about a hippie who lost his ear in a hair-cutting accident. Although Benjamin succeeds, his fear of being weird is laid to rest when the others relate events recent to the book. Mrs. Jewls even gives him the lunch meant for him that Louis placed on her desk back in Chapter 2. Later, Allison encounters Mark Miller from Miss Zarves’ class. He holds a bag containing an ear like the one from Mac’s story (proving said story to be false), which he states Miss Zarves told him to take to the hospital.

30. Wayside School Is Falling Down: A brewing storm makes a fire drill go awry when Mrs. Jewls’ class panics in various ways. She rings her cowbell enough times for the wind to carry the sound far away. Eventually, the school itself is stuffed full of cows, having been attracted to said bell. Wayside School temporarily closes down; the teachers and students are relocated to other schools; and Louis stays behind to remove the cows.