Friday, January 22, 2016

Wayside School

Today, I'd like to venture away from picture books a bit and discuss a great early-grade chapter book.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School was written by Louis Sachar, award-winning author of Holes and the Marvin Redpost series. Wayside School was supposed to be built one story high and have 30 classrooms. But the builder made a mistake and built the school 30 stories high with one classroom per level! (He said he was very sorry.)

The book details the strange happenings of the teachers and students on the 30th floor. Mrs. Gorf, who turns her students into apples, is soon replaced by Mrs. Jewls, who thinks her students are so cute they can't possibly be children and must be monkeys. And the students are even sillier than the teachers: There's Joe, who cannot count in the correct order and yet gets the right answer each time; Bebe, who can draw over 300 pictures in an hour; and of course Sammy -- the new kid in class -- who wears layers of raincoats and is very smelly.

I started reading this to William this week, and just as Abby had been when I read it to her, he was completely enthralled and giggly and kept asking for "just one more chapter." It is a great bridge from picture books to chapter books in that the action and stories are so compelling and hilarious for kids, they don't miss the illustrations on each page. The chapters in the book are quick and filled with ridiculousness, as well as timeless experiences from grade school and childhood.

First published in 1978, there have been three editions of this original book, as well as two sequels: Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. Check them out for your kiddos soon, and you may find yourself enjoying them just as much.

Happy reading!


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