Chris's Reviews > Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
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's review
Jan 06, 08

Recommended for: the young at heart

If you want to see exactly what rests at the center of someone’s soul, don’t bother reading a 200-page biography on them; ask them what was the first book ever to make an impression on them that lasted into their adulthood. For some it might be some garbage about a brat named Ramona and her ginger-kid friends, and these people embrace a passion for whimsy and camaraderie. Others have a deep-rooted sense of ‘self’ from cherishing the trails and tribulations of some chick named Margaret menstruating and masturbating. Those who would grow up to be truly unexceptional enjoyed those 10-page “Mr. Man” books (mr happy, mr bump, mr greedy) which always delivered some pointless life lesson about sharing, caring, or other similar nonsense. And then there are those who were destined to be influenced by the outrageous, ridiculous, and sublime, and their rallying point is the fantastic cast of Wayside School.

I’m sure each character has their own loyal following of obedient acolytes who have championed their cause and tried emulating their idol throughout their life; most would probably be fond of Todd, the luckless but genuinely lovable rapscallion who is dismissed from class for his antics every day, the art-f@g crowd related to Bebe Gunn, the dreamers prefer Sharie , the ambitious geeks decry the greatness of Myron, the optimists swear DJ had the right attitude while the misanthropes defer to Kathy’s wisdom, and the goofballs and flucktards of the world were torn between Stephen and Jenny. The people supporting anyone else are usually living in their parents’ basement currently and getting geeked on paint thinner or spending their time volunteering for charitable causes or running for public office. But there is the unsung hero that none can forget, easily the linchpin of the story and the single most inspiring, enigmatic, and culturally relevant character ever introduced in ANY book; Sammy. That’s right, Sammy; the grimy, filthy, stinking, and baffling dead rat that tries infiltrating Mrs. Jewls class while posing as a student and wearing multiple raincoats that reek of decay and alley-trash. He trash talks the entire class, he befouls their atmosphere with his pungent stench, and threatens to bite the teachers head off for discarding his ‘good clothes’ as she throws raincoat after raincoat out the window. Sammy stands proud in the midst of his admonishment, laughing at those who think he might actually give a damn about their concerns or opinions, and is ultimately banished to the basement to live with the other dead rats; presumably where they hatch their nefarious plans to somehow attend class. Are they doing it just to cause a commotion? Are the legitimately interested in garnering some education? Could this be their own rite of passage in their social circles? Sammy’s puzzling nature keeps us guessing, pondering these questions without conclusion.

Compared to the iconic students attending Wayside, the kids at Hogwarts don’t compare, Ramona and her ilk look flimsy and pathetic, and the Choose Your Own Adventure books seem predictable and without shock compared to the zany irreverence displayed in these Sideways Stories.
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Leah (new)

Leah hilariously awesome review!

message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina Word. I loved those books. There was a sequel, "Wayside School is Falling Down". Also excellent. If I ever decided to breed, I'd make my kids read those books.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Fantastic review.

Lauren Hutchinson I was hoping someone else remembered Myron, the Dead Rat. It's what I remember most/fondly when people talk about "young readers."

I also liked the chapter when they make Ice Cream with each student's flavors. This was a great book to read when I read it.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Maurecia couldn't taste Maurecia flavored ice cream! But she loved Todd ice cream.

Ezra Blum Your review was breathtaking.

Karen amazing! just bought it to reread and to relive my earlier years. your review makes me wanna read it right now! actually, i will :)

message 8: by Pj (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pj I love your opening sentence - it's true. I don't feel as is I know someone until I know the works of art that have impacted them.

Lauren YES. That Sammy story was by far the most memorable (and one of the more genius) from the Wayside series. Well put :)

Chris Actually this is the first book to leave such a reading impression on me. I remember dying laughing around he house at a young age reading these books. Personally I love the sequel better, but this is just as good. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!!!

message 11: by Kari (new)

Kari Hanson Hey there, just ordered this book for my son. Can you think of other similar stories you enjoyed? He loves to read and I'm trying to find books/series to keep him going.

message 12: by Kari (new)

Kari Hanson P.S., he is 7 years old.

Melissa This was a downright beautiful review. Excellent job, sir. I was skimming your descriptions of each character hoping you would mention Sammy...thank you. If I ever decide to get a tattoo I know it can only be of one thing...a potato on my ankle. True fans know why.

Bryani N. Odum I want to read it you never know what you could Learn

Bryani N. Odum I texted the wrong person

message 16: by Julian (new) - added it

Julian Hi

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)


message 18: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann Derichs I read this book to my classes every year! They love it!

Anthony Thank you. I needed this review in my life. #DownwithRamona

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