WAYSIDE SCHOOL IS FALLING DOWN

From the Wayside School series , Vol. 2

Thirty rib-tickling tales of Wayside School, where the classrooms are stacked one atop the other, dead rats live in the basement, and there's no 19th floor—usually. It's a long haul from the playground to the 30th floor, past the principal's office (lair of Mr. Kidswatter), past the lunchroom, where Miss Mush makes her Mushroom Surprise, past Miss Zarves' class on the 19th floor that isn't there; but the children don't mind, for Mrs. Jewls—their favorite teacher—is waiting for them. Wayside School is never dull; if Mrs. Jewls isn't demonstrating gravity by dropping the new computer out the window or delivering words of wisdom ("It doesn't matter what you wear on the outside. It's what's underneath that counts. If you want to be great and important, you have to wear expensive underpants"), her students liven things up: among other startling events, Sharie brings in a hobo for show-and-tell; Calvin shows off his birthday tattoo; and the ghost of dreaded former teacher Mrs. Gorf animates Miss Mush's potato salad. Each short episode is prefaced with a simple, evocative line drawing. Sachar has a gift for having fun without poking it too sharply, and beneath all the frivolity there very often lurks some idea or observation worth pondering. A sure-to-please sequel to Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

Pub Date: March 22, 1989

ISBN: 0380754843

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1989

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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