Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1004
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...
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- Chapter Summaries
- Critical Essays
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 Todd answers another student's question, Todd is warned again.When robbers show up in class, Todd talks them out of hurting anyone.After the robbers leave, Mrs. Jewls puts Todd's name on the board. Todd is in big trouble.
In Chapter 6, Bebe, a girl who loves to draw, is introduced.Bebe not only loves to draw, she loves to draw fast.Mrs. Jewls convinces Bebe that drawing fast is not something Bebe should celebrate.Bebe says she is going to sketch a cat, drawing only one whisker per day.
In subsequent chapters, readers get to know a long stream of characters.There is Myron who has big ears and is elected class president.As president, Myron's job is to turn on the lights at the beginning of the day and turn them off before he leaves school.Then there is Jason and Joy.Joy has the biggest mouth in Mrs. Jewls's class, and Jason has the second biggest.One day Joy sticks her gum on Jason's chair.When Jason sits down and later tries to get up, he finds he is stuck.Mrs. Jewls suggests that they cut off Jason's pants to get him free.But Jason begs her not to.Joy kisses Jason on the nose, and Jason magically pulls himself free of the chewing gum.
Sammy is a special character who shows up in Mrs. Jewls's class one day.The other students, as well as Mrs. Jewls, think that Sammy stinks.He has on more than ten raincoats, which Mrs. Jewls helps Sammy take off.When Mrs. Jewls takes off the last raincoat, she finds that Sammy is not really a student.He's a dead rat. On another day, D.J. comes to school, and he is smiling so much, he makes all the other students and Mrs. Jewls smile too.Even the room smiles.Finally, Mrs. Jewls's mouth is a little tired of smiling so she asks D.J. to tell them why he is smiling so much.D.J. refuses to say anything.Later, at recess, D.J. finally confides in Louis, saying that you might need a reason to be sad, but nobody needs a reason to smile.
There are three Erics in Mrs. Jewls class:Eric Fry, Eric Bacon, and Eric Ovens.These boys are known to be fat.If they sat on the same side of the room, the other students are afraid the whole schoolhouse will tip over.But the truth is that Eric Bacon is not really fat.He is actually the skinniest boy in Mrs. Jewls's class.It is just that the other students do not seem to notice.The other two Erics are fat, and so everyone assumes that Eric Bacon is fat too.
Nancy is the name of a boy in Mrs. Jewls's class.And Mac is the name of a girl.Neither Nancy nor Mac liked their names, so they decided to trade names.Once the other students find out that it is all right to trade names, they decide to do the same thing; one student trades with another and then decides to trade again.The trading becomes so complicated that no one can remember what to call anybody else, so they untangle the name exchange and get back to their original names.Everyone is happy, except for Nancy and Mac, who come to the conclusion that they will still use their newly traded names.