Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School is a collection of tales from an imaginary school that was incorrectly constructed.The school was supposed to have been built as a one-story building, thirty rooms long.But the contractor turned the building plan onto its side, and thus the school was constructed as a thirty-floor structure, only one room wide.There is no elevator...and there is also no nineteenth floor.That fact, like many others in the story, is never explained.
In Chapter 1, readers are introduced to Mrs. Gorf, who turns unruly students into apples.Mrs. Gorf defines "unruly" as anything students do that Mrs. Gorf does not like, such as talking when not spoken to or just plain sneezing in class.The rules in Mrs. Gorf's class are not easily defined or followed. Close to the end of this chapter, all of the students are sitting on Mrs. Gorf's desk, all of them having been turned into apples.But the children have the last laugh: they force Mrs. Gorf to return them back into children, and when Mrs. Gorf is about to curse them again, a student named Jenny holds up a mirror, and Mrs. Gorf turns herself into an apple.Shortly after this, Louis, the yard teacher, shows up.Without explaining to him what has happened, Mrs. Gorf's students watch silently while Louis eats Mrs. Gorf in apple form.
In Chapter 2, Mrs. Jewls arrives to teach Mrs. Gorf's students.The students are concerned about Mrs. Jewls because they have heard that she is very nice.Mrs. Jewls is likewise concerned because she had heard that her new students are too cute.When Mrs. Jewls first sees the students, though, she is startled.She cannot believe that she has been asked to teach a roomful of monkeys. The students argue that they are not monkeys.But Mrs. Jewls deflects this argument by claiming that monkeys would not know they were monkeys.
Joe is introduced in Chapter 3.Joe has his own unique way of counting, which is nothing like the way everyone else counts.In Chapter 4, readers meet Sharie, who has the habit of falling asleep in class.One day while she is asleep, Sharie falls out of the window.Thankfully, Louis catches Sharie before she hits the ground.
Mrs. Jewls has very strict rules in her classroom.One of those rules is that there should be no talking.In Chapter 5, Todd has his name written on the board because he has a good thought and wants to share it.When he utters a few words, Mrs. Jewls warns him about talking in class.When...
(The entire section is 1004 words.)
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Introduction and Chapters 1-2 Summary
Wayside School is very unique. Although it was supposed to be only one story high with thirty classrooms all lined up in a row, it was accidentally built to be thirty stories high with one classroom on each story. All of the stories in this book are about the teachers and children who go to class on the top story of Wayside School.
Chapter 1: “Mrs. Gorf”
Mrs. Gorf was the meanest teacher at Wayside School. If the children were bad, she would wiggle her ears, stick out her tongue, and turn them into apples. Joe was afraid Mrs. Gorf would turn him into an apple because he couldn’t add, so he copied off of John. Mrs. Gorf caught him and turned both him and John into apples.
By the end of the day, two more children had been turned into apples, and all four apples had stay the night on Mrs. Gorf’s desk. Their parents were worried, but the other children were too afraid of Mrs. Gorf to tell what had happened. By the end of the week, all the children in the class had annoyed Mrs. Gorf in one way or another, and all had been turned into apples.
Mrs. Gorf thought she would not have to teach anymore and was ready to go home for good, but one of the apples, Todd, jumped off the desk and bopped her in the nose. All the other apples jumped on Mrs. Gorf, too. She shouted at them to stop and threatened to turn them into applesauce. The apples were not scared, however, and demanded to be turned back into children. Seeing that she had no choice, Mrs. Gorf did what they asked by sticking her tongue out first, then wiggling her ears.
When all the apples were children again, Mrs. Gorf tried to turn them back into apples—but when she began to wiggle her ears, Jenny held up a mirror, and Mrs. Gorf turned herself into an apple. Louis, the yard teacher, came into the classroom, saw the apple that was really Mrs. Gorf on the desk, and ate it.
Chapter 2: “Mrs. Jewls”
Mrs. Gorf was replaced by Mrs. Jewls, who was supposed to be “terribly nice.” When she first came into the classroom, Mrs. Jewls looked at the children and said, “I don’t believe it...it’s a room full of monkeys!” She was surprised when Todd and Calvin spoke up and insisted that they were not monkeys but children. Mrs. Jewls replied, “No...you’re much too cute to be children.”
Mrs. Jewls announced that tomorrow she would bring bananas for all the...
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Chapters 3-5 Summary
Chapter 3: “Joe”
Joe had a problem: he could not count. One day, Mrs. Jewls put five pencils in front of him and asked him to count them. Joe said, “Four, six, one, nine, five...there are five pencils.” Somehow, Joe could always get the right answer, but he counted the wrong way.
Mrs. Jewls had Joe repeat the numbers one to ten in order with her. She then put six erasers in front of him and asked him to count them. Joe said, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten...there are ten.” This time Joe counted right, but he got the wrong answer.
No matter how Mrs. Jewls tried to teach Joe, he could not learn to count. If he said the numbers in their correct order, he got the wrong answer; only if he said the numbers in the wrong order could he get the right answer. Finally Mrs. Jewls gave up and told Joe that one day he would just wake up in the morning and suddenly be able to count.
Sure enough, when Joe woke up the next day, he could count; he counted the hairs on his head and discovered that he had “fifty-five thousand and six.” Joe wondered why he should even go to school if he could just wake up in the morning and know what he needed to know.
Chapter 4: “Sharie”
Sharie was very tiny and always wore a big, red-and-blue overcoat to school. Every day she sat next to the window and just stared outside; for some reason, Mrs. Jewls thought she was “the best student in the class.” One day it was very hot, but Sharie still wore her overcoat. The heat made her tired, and she fell asleep in her seat. Tossing and turning, she fell out the window.
Because Mrs. Jewls’s classroom was on the thirtieth story, Sharie had a long way to fall. After she had gone about ten stories, she woke up, but she did not know where she was and went back to sleep. Fortunately, Louis, the yard teacher, saw Sharie fall out the window. He ran across the playground to catch her before she hit the ground. Sharie woke up in Louis’s arms and good-naturedly scolded him for interrupting her dream.
Louis carried Sharie back up thirty flights of stairs to her classroom. That night, at home, Sharie could not sleep. For some reason, she was not tired.
Chapter 5: “Todd”
In Mrs. Jewls’s class, the children were given three chances. If a student did something wrong, his or her...
(The entire section is 664 words.)
Chapters 6-8 Summary
Chapter 6: “Bebe”
Bebe could draw pictures faster than anyone. During art period, she could create “fifty cats, a hundred flowers, twenty dogs.” Calvin, who did not think he was a very good artist, decided that he would just help Bebe with her drawing. As she quickly drew her many pictures, he would pick up her finished papers and set new, clean papers in front of her. This allowed Bebe to draw even more pictures in the time set aside for art.
One day, Mrs. Jewls asked Calvin why he did not draw his own pictures. Calvin laughingly told her that he could not draw nearly as well as Bebe; in the time Bebe could create a hundred pictures, he would only be able to make one. Mrs. Jewls responded by saying:
That isn’t how you measure art. It isn’t how many pictures you have, but how good the pictures are.
Hearing this, Bebe ran out of the room and looked like she was going to cry. She told Louis, the yard teacher, that she was going home to draw a picture of a cat, but when Louis asked her to bring it to school the next day to show him, she said that she could not. It would take much longer than that for her to finish her drawing this time!
Chapter 7: “Calvin”
One day Mrs. Jewls asked Calvin to take a note to Miss Zarves on the nineteenth story. When Calvin tried to tell her there was no nineteenth story and no Miss Zarves, Mrs. Jewls became impatient and threatened to send him home on the kindergarten bus. Calvin left the classroom but did not know what to do. To make matters even worse, Mrs. Jewls had not given him a note.
Calvin saw Louis, the yard teacher, out on the playground, and asked him what to do. Louis told him:
You are not supposed to take no notes to no teachers. You already haven’t done it.
Calvin decided that he would have to go back to Mrs. Jewls and tell her that he could not deliver the note. To his surprise, she just thanked him and said that in the note, she had told Miss Zarves not to meet her for lunch. Calvin was relieved; as there was no Miss Zarves, she certainly would not be meeting Mrs. Jewls for lunch.
Chapter 8: “Myron”
In Mrs. Jewls’s class, the sole duty of the class president was to turn on the lights every morning and turn them off again at the end of...
(The entire section is 623 words.)
Chapters 9-11 Summary
Chapter 9: “Maurecia”
Everyone in the class liked Maurecia, but Maurecia only liked ice cream. Maurecia would bring an ice cream cone to school every day and keep it in her desk until lunchtime. She brought all kinds of flavors, but eventually she got tired of them all. By that time, the inside of her desk was a sticky mess, and—what was worse—now Maurecia did not like anything.
Mrs. Jewls did not like seeing Maurecia so unhappy. She invented a new flavor of ice cream for Maurecia; it was called “Maurecia-flavored ice cream.” Everyone liked Maurecia-flavored ice cream, but to Maurecia it had no taste. The next day, Mrs. Jewls brought in “Joe-flavored ice cream.” Maurecia and everyone else liked Joe-flavored ice cream—everyone, that is, except Joe. And of course, although everybody still liked Maurecia, now Maurecia only liked Joe.
Mrs. Jewls invented twenty-seven new flavors, one for every student in her class. Except for the person for whom the particular ice cream was named, everyone always liked the new flavors, even Maurecia. Everybody liked Maurecia, and finally Maurecia liked everybody back.
Maurecia’s favorite ice cream turned out to be “Todd-flavored ice cream.” The only problem was that sometimes Maurecia would try to take a bite out of Todd’s arm because she liked his flavor so much!
Chapter 10: “Paul”
Paul sat behind Leslie in class. Leslie had two very long pigtails, and Paul had an uncontrollable urge to pull them. One day, before he realized what he was doing, he grabbed one of Leslie’s pigtails. Leslie screamed, and Mrs. Jewls put Paul’s name on the board under DISCIPLINE.
Sadly, Paul was not satisfied; he really wanted to pull the other pigtail too. Unable to withstand the temptation, he reached out and yanked it; Leslie screamed again, and Mrs. Jewls put a check by his name on the board. Paul was happy now, though, and thought he could pull each of Leslie’s pigtails every day. He would not get sent home on the kindergarten bus as long as he did not get in trouble a third time.
Suddenly, for no reason, Leslie screamed again. Mrs. Jewls circled Paul’s name and sent him home on the kindergarten bus. No one would believe him when he insisted he had not pulled Leslie’s pigtail again.
Chapter 11: “Dana”
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Chapters 12-14 Summary
Chapter 12: “Jason”
One day Jason tattled on Joy, who had a mouth full of gum. He then jumped out of his seat and wrote Joy’s name on the blackboard under DISCIPLINE himself. While he was up, Joy took the gum out of her mouth and put it on his chair. When Jason sat back down, he was stuck. Mrs. Jewls got angry at Joy and told her she would have to go home on the kindergarten bus.
Jason could not get out of his chair. Mrs. Jewls threw ice water all over him to try to make the gum less sticky, but it did not work. Now poor Jason was “wet and...cold and...still stuck!”
Mrs. Jewls decided that the only way to get Jason unstuck would be to cut off his pants. She asked the three Erics to take him to the bathroom; the three Erics picked up Jason’s chair and turned him upside down. Joy told Mrs. Jewls that she knew a way to get Jason free. Mrs. Jewls told her that if she could do it, she would not have to go home on the kindergarten bus. While Jason was hanging there helplessly, Joy came up and kissed him on the nose. Jason fell out of his chair, and Joy erased her name from the blackboard.
Chapter 13: “Rondi”
Rondi was missing her two front teeth. Everyone told her, “Your front teeth are so cute!” but Rondi did not understand because she knew her front teeth were not there. The other kids started teasing her, telling her that the coat and hat and boots she was not wearing were very cute too. Then suddenly everybody sitting near her started to laugh—at a joke she did not tell!
Mrs. Jewls got very angry at the disruption and wrote Rondi’s name on the blackboard under DISCIPLINE. Rondi protested that she had not told a joke, but Mrs. Jewls responded that “the funniest jokes are the ones that remain untold.”
Thoroughly frustrated, Rondi decided to play along and really told a joke, but no one reacted at all. At recess, Louis the yard teacher came up to Rondi and asked her to smile so he could see her “cute front teeth.” Rondi screamed and socked him in the stomach.
Chapter 14: “Sammy”
One rainy day, a new boy named Sammy came to class. No one could tell what he looked like, though, because he was completely covered by his raincoat. Leslie walked up to greet Sammy but stopped short when she noticed that he smelled terrible. When she told him so, Mrs....
(The entire section is 598 words.)
Chapters 15-17 Summary
Chapter 15: “Deedee”
Deedee loved recess. Everyday as soon as the recess bell rang, she would run downstairs to the playground from the thirtieth story. When she got there, she would ask Louis for a green ball or a red one, but someone always beat her to it. By the time Deedee got down to the playground, only the yellow ball was left, but the yellow ball was no good.
One day Deedee asked Mrs. Jewls if she could go out to recess early, and Mrs. Jewls said she could if she could spell Mississippi. Deedee was not a good speller, and by the time she spelled the word right, she was late for recess. Needless to say, Deedee did not get the green ball or the red one that day either.
Finally, Deedee came up with a plan. The next day, just before recess, she smeared cream cheese and jelly over her face, stuffed her mouth with nuts, and hung shredded cheese from her nose to make herself look like a dead rat. When Mrs. Jewls saw her she said, “I want that dead rat outside immediately!” Before she knew it, Deedee found herself out on the playground. She was the first one out to recess, and Louis gave her a green ball.
Chapter 16: “D.J.”
D.J. always had a smile on his face. Anyone who saw him could not help but smile too. Jason came to school late one day and was very upset, but when he saw D.J.’s smiling face he started laughing so hard he fell down on the floor. Everyone started to laugh then:
The whole room seemed to be laughing...the blackboard chuckled...the ceiling snickered...the floor...laughed until the walls turned purple.
Even Kathy laughed, and she never laughed except when someone hurt himself.
Mrs. Jewls and the other children tried to figure out why D.J. was so happy, but no one could guess the answer. Later, Louis the yard teacher asked D.J. why he was always smiling. D.J. said simply, “You don’t need a reason to be happy.”
Chapter 17: “John”
John was one of the smartest boys in the class, but he could only read words written upside down. This was not a problem in his reading group because he could just turn his book upside down, but as Mrs. Jewls pointed out, reading words off the blackboard was another issue altogether. John would have to learn to stand on his head!
Unfortunately, John’s head was...
(The entire section is 597 words.)
Chapters 18-21 Summary
Chapter 18: “Leslie”
Leslie had “ten adorable little toes,” but she did not know what to do with them. She told Louis, the yard teacher, “I don’t know what to do with my toes.” Louis told Leslie that if she did not want her toes, she could cut them off and give them to him. Louis would then pass them on to Miss Mush, the lunch teacher, so she could make little hot dogs out of them.
Louis told Leslie that he would give her five cents apiece for her toes, and Leslie thought that was a pretty good idea. When she told Louis he could have her toes for a nickel apiece, however, Louis wanted to see them first. He then decided they were not worth the full amount he had promised, so the deal was off.
Louis then offered Leslie a dollar for each of her pigtails. Leslie was astonished—she was not about to cut off her hair to give to him.
Chapter 19: “Miss Zarves”
“There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story.”
Chapter 20: “Kathy”
Kathy hates everyone. The only person she ever liked in Mrs. Jewls’s class was Sammy, and he was a dead rat. Kathy has good reasons for not liking anyone. She does not like Mrs. Jewls because Kathy had a pet cat, and Mrs. Jewls told her once that if she was nice to him, he would not run away. Kathy locked the cat in her closet at home and sometimes did not feed him; the cat got out and did not come back. Kathy concluded that Mrs. Jewls lied to her. That is why Kathy does not like Mrs. Jewls.
Another time, Dameon tried to teach Kathy to play catch. Kathy was afraid she would get hurt, but Dameon told her she would not as long as she kept her eye on the ball. Kathy closed her eyes and got hit in the cheek. She blamed Dameon for her injury because he had told her she would not get hurt. That is why Kathy does not like Dameon.
Kathy hates people she has never even met. She knows that if they get to know her, they will not like her. Kathy is usually right about that—“it’s funny how a person can be right all the time and still be wrong.”
Chapter 21: “Ron”
Ron wanted to play kickball more than anything, but he was terrible at it, and the other kids would not let him play. Louis, the yard teacher, told the kids, “Anyone who wants to play can play,” and he chose Ron to be on his team and...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
Chapters 22-24 Summary
Chapter 22: “The Three Erics”
There were three Erics in Mrs. Jewls’s class: Eric Fry, Eric Bacon, and Eric Ovens. All three of the Erics had nicknames.
Eric Bacon’s nickname was “Fatso” even though he was the skinniest kid in the class. Because the other two Erics were fat, everyone thought all Erics were fat. Eric Bacon hated his nickname.
Eric Fry really was big, but he was the best athlete in the class, because his body was all muscle. However, because the other two Erics were clumsy, no one noticed how good Eric Fry really was at sports. While playing baseball one day, Eric Fry just missed making a spectacular catch. Everyone assumed he was a poor player, so they did not see how skilled he was to even get close to the ball on that play, and they gave him the nickname “Butterfingers.”
Because Eric Bacon and Eric Fry hated their nicknames so much, they became mean. Eric Ovens was the nicest person in Mrs. Jewls’s class, but because everyone thought all Erics were mean, he earned the nickname “Crabapple.”
Even though their nicknames did not fit, it was better that the Erics had them. At least that way they would know which one of them was being spoken to when people called them.
Chapter 23: “Allison”
Allison was Rondi’s best friend. She often said that she was the one who knocked Rondi’s two front teeth out. Because she was very pretty, all the boys liked to tease her about it. Allison, however, responded by saying, “Leave me alone or I’ll knock your teeth out—like I did Rondi’s,” so the boys left her alone after that.
Allison was especially nice to the teachers. When Miss Mush, the lunch teacher, asked for her tangerine, Allison gave it to her because Miss Mush always gave food to the children. When Louis, the yard teacher, asked to play with her tennis ball, Allison was happy to lend it to him because Louis always gave balls to children. But when Jason ran up to her, however, and tagged her in freeze tag, she told him, “Get out of here before I knock your teeth out.”
One day, Allison was helping Mrs. Jewls in the classroom. She had to tell Mrs. Jewls how to spell the word “chair.” Mrs. Jewls thanked her, saying, “Children are really smarter than their teachers.” Allison responded, “Everybody knows that.”
(The entire section is 645 words.)
Chapters 25-27 Summary
Chapter 25: “Jenny”
Jenny came to school late one day, but when she raced up to her classroom, there was no one there. Jenny did not know what to do, so she took out her spelling book and began to do some work. Suddenly a man with a black mustache and an attaché case burst into the room. Jenny jumped from her seat, but the man ordered her to sit back down and began to ask her questions.
The man asked Jenny what she was doing there and where the rest of her class was. When Jenny suggested that perhaps the class had gone on a field trip, the man snapped that they indeed had not. He asked Jenny if she had been puzzled when she had arrived in class and found that no one was there. The man was not very nice, and Jenny started to cry.
Two more men came into the room, and the three of them talked among themselves about Jenny. One of them asked her why she was the only one in school, and when Jenny insisted that she did not know what was going on, the men conferred until finally one of them said he was satisfied with her story. The men let Jenny go and told her, “Next time, don’t come to school on a Saturday.”
Chapter 26: “Terrence”
Terrence was a bad sport. The other children did not like to let him play ball with them, but Louis said they had to. Every time Terrence got to play, however, he would take the ball and kick it over the fence the first chance he got. When the other kids naturally protested, he would fight back by saying something mean.
Eventually, there were no balls left because Terrence had kicked them all over the fence. Terrence went to Louis and complained that there was “nothing left to kick.” Louis responded oddly by telling him that although there were no more balls, there might indeed be “something left to kick.” The other kids caught on an agreed with Louis; Terrence excitedly demanded, “Give it to me! Give it to me!”
Since Terrence had asked for it, Louis picked him up and kicked him over the fence.
Chapter 27: “Joy”
Joy had forgotten her lunch at home, and she was very hungry. When Dameon left his lunch bag on his desk to go get some milk from Miss Mush, Joy stole it, ate its contents, and left the trash on the desks of other children.
When Dameon returned and complained that his lunch was gone, Joy said that Calvin took it. Because...
(The entire section is 645 words.)
Chapters 28-30 Summary
Chapter 28: “Nancy”
Nancy was a boy who hated his name because it was a girl’s name. He had only one friend, a very pretty girl from another class. Nancy did not know her name, and she did not know his either.
One day, Nancy discovered that his friend’s name was Mac and that she hated her name too. Nancy and Mac decided to trade names; they both spun around a hundred times, and when they were done, “Mac was Nancy and Nancy was Mac.”
The other children in Mrs. Jewls’s class liked the idea of trading names and decided that they wanted to do it, too. Everyone started spinning around in all different directions, and when they were done, no one knew who anybody was. Although it took quite a while, in the end they untangled the mess. Everyone decided just to keep their own names because it made everything easier.
But Mac and Nancy got to keep their new names.
Chapter 29: “Stephen”
Stephen came to school on Friday dressed up as a goblin. Halloween was not until Sunday, but Mrs. Jewls had said they would celebrate on Friday instead. Stephen was the only one who came to school in a costume, and some of the kids gave him a hard time about it.
Mrs. Jewls gave each student a cookie for the Halloween celebration, which lasted only about thirty seconds. Stephen felt foolish because he had to spend the rest of the day wearing his costume.
As Mrs. Jewls began teaching arithmetic, the chalk in her hand suddenly turned into a “squiggling worm.” The lights went out, and the blackboard changed into a movie screen. A woman appeared on the screen, then stepped out into the classroom. It was the ghost of Mrs. Gorf!
Mrs. Jewls told Mrs. Gorf to get out of her classroom, but Mrs. Gorf said that on Halloween ghosts could go wherever they liked. She added that since Halloween fell on a Sunday this year, it should be celebrated on that day, the Friday before.
Hearing this, Stephen ran to Mrs. Gorf and told her that the kids had laughed at him for wearing his costume to school when it was not even Halloween. He was so glad Mrs. Gorf agreed that Halloween should be celebrated on that day that he gave her a big hug. Mrs. Gorf gasped, then disappeared. Everyone who had laughed at Stephen thought he was a hero.
Chapter 30: “Louis”
Louis was the yard teacher at...
(The entire section is 627 words.)