Friday, January 23, 2015

SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL


Review of SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL by LOUIS SACHAR

This was a fun one to re-read. SIDEWAYS STORIES was one of my absolute favorites back in elementary school and I read it over and over dozens of times. See, Wayside School is a little...unusual. For starters, the school was meant to have 30 classrooms all on the ground level, but instead the builder accidentally made the school 30 stories high with one classroom on each floor. The 30 chapters (or stories) in this book each follow one of the equally unusual characters inhabiting such a place.

Really, what’s sideways about Wayside School is the logic. The opening story tells of a mean teacher who turns students into apples at the slightest provocation. My favorites include the one about John, who can only read upside down; the one about Bebe, a budding artist who learns a valuable lesson about quantity vs. quality; and, of course, Chapter 19 about the mysterious 19th story.

I do admit that I didn’t adore this as much as I did when I was nine. It’s still a fun read as an adult, but what seemed uproariously funny as a child is more often just silly and bizarre now that I’m older. However, I still highly recommend SIDEWAYS STORIES for kids and think there’s nevertheless some content and subtext that will appeal to adults as well. Many of these crazy stories emphasize important life lessons through hyperbole. Like Joe, who is taught that doing something the “right” way is as important as actually having the correct answer. Or Kathy, who invents a reason to hate everyone.

The truth is we could all benefit from a little sideways logic now and again.

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