Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sideways Stories from Garrick Way

My favorite series of books growing up was the Wayside School series of books by Louis Sachar. These books rocked. Recently my little brother Andrew found these books for a few bucks at some bookstore so he picked em up and we read them again and they are still hilarious, all these years later. So to commemorate these underappreciated books, Andrew and I have concocted a list of our top 10 chapters from the three Wayside books and here we will unveil them with our commentary. These lists were compiled separately and without any consultation whatsoever between the two of us.
For reference, the three boks in the Wayside Series are
1. Sideways Stories from Wayside School
2. Wayside School is Falling Down
3. Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger
in chronological order. There was also a weird book with math problems (Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School? Something like that), but we lost that book and can't find it in any stores, so that one is not included. Without further ado, here are the lists:

Greg's Pick -- "Myron" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Andrew's Pick -- "Valooosh" from Wayside School is Falling Down

Greg's Comments: In this chapter, Myron is elected class president. He is very excited to do good for the class until he learns that the one and only responsibility of the class president is to turn the lights on and off at the beginning and end of the day. After his first day as president he finds a fellow student with a near dead dog, and takes him to the vet. He checks up on the dog the next morning and is late to school, very proud of his presidential actions. Unfortunately he is fired as class president because he was not there to turn on the lights at the beginning of the day. Ahhhh, the sweet irony. I love the shorter, ironic chapters like this one.
Favorite quote: "Myron, who was only president for a day, was the best president in the history of Wayside School. It was just that nobody knew it."

Andrew's Comments: In this fine chapter, a world famous dancer, Mrs. Waloosh, comes to Wayside School to teach the kids how to do classic ballroom dancing. I guess world-famous dancing isn't enough to occupy her time, so she has to teach small children to do so as well. So they start dancing, tangoing rather, and the teacher starts throwing up the kids on the last beat of the songs. The kids see how fun it is and start to dance with each other, all having a great time. Eventually the teacher gets so tired that she throws one of the students in the air and never catches them. Brilliant. Excellent chapter all around
Favorite quote: "Ve aren't going to dahnce, ve are going to tango!"

Greg's Pick -- "Eric, Eric, and Eric" from Wayside School is Falling Down
Andrew's Pick -- "What?" from Wayside School is Falling Down

Greg's Comments: There are three Eric's in the class in Wayside School (Mrs. Jewls' class, by the way). So Mrs. Jewls is obviously confused when the principal requests that she send down 'Eric' to his office, but she just sends down the largest Eric, and then all the other Erics eventually. Mr. Kidswatter is grilling them about a card that he got, on the front it said "Charlie's Barber Shop"...on the back it said "Mr. Kidswatter is a Mugworm Griblick" written in a sharpened pencil by a left-handed man. It's just funny how he grills the hell out of them one by one "Have you ever been to 'Charlie's Barber Shop'..."Are you left Handed"...etc. Great chapter with funny one liners start to finish.
Favorite quote: " 'Did Maurecia step on somebody's pencil this morning?' asked Mr. Kidswatter
'She stepped on everybody's pencil' "
Andrew's Comments: This chapter is amazing. The whole story takes place backwards, i.e. the chapter begins at the end of events chronologically and works backwards. Also, part of the events are about a person reading a story backwards. It's BEAUTIFUL. What a premise. I think I'm done here.
Favorite Quote: " 'Why are you late?' asked Mrs. Jewels. 'I can't hear you,' said Jenny. 'I better take off my helmet." She took off her helmet. 'Take off your helmet,' said Mrs. Jewels."

Greg's Pick -- "Calvin" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Andrew's Pick -- "Rondi" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Greg's Comments: A little backstory first. Wayside school was accidentally built sideways. ie it was supposed to be one story 30 rooms across, but the builders accidentally made it 30 stories one room across. Also, the builder forgot to build the 19th story. Mrs. Zarves teaches the class on the 19th story. There is no Mrs. Zarves. There is no 19th story. This is why Calvin is perplexed when Mrs. Jewls has Calvin deliver a note to Mrs. Zarves. Also, she never even gives him the note. So he's got to deliver a note he doesn't have to a person who doesn't exist. He eventually just gives up and goes back upstairs, and it turns out the note was to tell Mrs. Zarves not to meet her for lunch. Calvin: "Don't worry, she won't". Beautiful, beautiful irony. I love irony and that's why the Wayside School books are so awesome to me.
Favorite quote: When Calvin is getting advice from Louis the yard teacher on what he should do -- " 'It's very simple,' said Louis. 'You are not supposed to take no notes to no teachers. You already haven't done it.' "
Andrew's Comments: Rondi is another fine chapter. Rondi is a student who has her two front teeth missing, but everyone says she has cute front teeth. This confuses Rondi since she doesn't even have them. One day, the class takes it farther, commenting on the hat she didn't wear, the boots she didn't wear, and laughing at the joke she didn't tell. Eventually she gets really mad, and when Louis, the yardteacher, asks her to smile so he can see her cute front teeth, she bites him with her missing teeth. Great irony.
Favorite quote: "She bit his arm with her missing teeth. And that's the kind of bite that hurts the worst."

Greg's Pick -- "Terrence" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Andrew's Pick -- "Eric, Eric, & Eric" (Greg's Number 9)

Greg's Comments: Terrence is a very awesome and short chapter based on a simple premise. Whenever Terrence is playing a game with people, he steals the ball and kicks it over the fence. The kids get fed up and complain to Louis the Yard Teacher, so he picks up Terrence and kicks him over the fence. Simple humor is the best kind. Also, Terrence always insults people with rhyming couplets "Shut up, Dixie Cup", etc.
Favorite quote: DJ and Dameon are playing basketball -- " 'You have to share the balls. Louis says so.' said Terrence. 'Okay, but just throw it in the basket. Don't kick it.' ... Then Terrence took his shot. He kicked the ball over the fence...'Take a train, peanut brain.' Terrence answered."
Andrew's Comments: Greg already informed you of the wondrous beauty of this chapter. So instead, I will list some of the better one-liners, then finish off with my favorite quote. For example, when one of the Erics is sent down, he blames his parents for it, asking why he couldn't have been named Osgood instead. In my opinion, Osgood is a funny name. Also, Mr. Kidswatter asks the Erics if they are right-handed or left-handed. When one of them says right-handed, Mr. Kidswatter throws a stapler at him to see what hand he tries to catch it with. This just shows how ridiculously detailed his grilling of the children is. Why is he so offended though? I mean, what is a mugworm griblick anyway?
Favorite quote: "Mr. Kidswatter is a Mugworm Griblick."

Greg's Pick -- "Mr. Gorf" from Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger
Andrew's Pick -- "A Story with a Disappointing Ending" from Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger

Greg's Comments: In this chapter Mrs. Jewls goes on maternity leave so they have to get a new teacher. Mrs. Jewls is a very nice teacher and they are all frightened their next teacher (Mr. Gorf) will be really mean. So when they get in the next day, even though the teacher isn't in the room, they all behave as well as possible, do work all day and never goof off. After all, he may have been hiding in the closet spying on them. So the chapter progresses that way until one of the students snaps...You know talking about how ridiculous it is, there's no way he's been hiding in the closet this whole time, here, I'll prove it...then he opens up the closet and it turns out the teacher WAS locked in there the whole time. Haha, wonderful, wonderful setup and an awesome payoff at the end, that's what slots it up so highly on my list.
Favorite quote: " 'How's your substitue teacher?' asked Louis. 'Tough!' said Bebe. 'I've never worked so hard in my life'. 'I did more work before ten o'clock than most people do all day' said Calvin. 'But he's very fair,' Myron quickly added, just in case Mr. Gorf was listening. He might have been hiding in the bushes."
Andrew's Comments: "A story with a disappointing ending," one of the few shining gems of the third and final Wayside School book. This one prominently features Dr. Pickell, a professional psychiatrist who lost his liscense and therefore became a school counselor. He lost his liscense by playing practical jokes on his hypnotized patients. For example, in this chapter, he hypnotizes a student and says that he will lick another student's ear whenever she says the word pencil. The "disappointing ending" is when it sets it up for the student to say pencil, gives her like 3 chances to, and she never says it. Excellent.
Favorite quote: while hypnotized -- " 'When-Leslie-says-'pencil'-I-will-eat-her-ears,' said Paul."

Greg's Pick -- "Another Story about Socks" from Wayside School is Falling Down
Andrew's Pick -- "Joe" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Greg's Comments: One of the students in the class, Sharie, brings a hobo into class for show and tell. The students proceed to ask him weird questions, and most of them end with how he doesn't wear socks because he believes they make you stupid. For example, he can't get a job because he refuses to wear socks. That's pretty much it for the story. The reason it rules so much is that the stories he tells and reactions of the kids are really funny, and just the general awesomeness of the idea of bringing a hobo to school for show and tell.
Favorite quote: " 'Was he a good cook?' asked Todd. 'No, he was eaten by cannibals.' 'Yuck!' said everyone together, except for Dana, who was very confused. She thought Hobo Bob had said he was eaten by cannonballs."
Andrew's Comments: Joe is another fine chapter. It starts out with Joe not knowing how to count, and Mrs. Jewels determined to teach him how. She holds him back from recess to count various amounts of objects. The problem is, when joe counts, he does it out of order, like "four, six, one, nine, five" is how he counts to five. Whenever he counts this way, he always ends on the right number and gets the right answer. Mrs. Jewels teaches him the right way, "one, two, three,...ten" and he starts counting like that. But he always goes to ten and says there are ten objects. The next day, Joe wakes up and knows how to count properly. beautiful.
Favorite quote: "Joe counted the books. "A thousand, a million, three. Three, Mrs. Jewels.' 'correct,' said Mrs. Jewels. 'Can I go to recess now?' Joe asked. 'No,' said Mrs. Jewels."

Greg's Pick -- "A Story with a Disappointing Ending" (Andrew's Number 6)
Andrew's Pick -- "Another Story about Socks" (Greg's Number 5)

Greg's Comments: More on Dr. Pickell: Hypnotizes somebody to slap her husband whenever he says potato, quack like a duck whenever they see a freight train with more than 20 cars, etc. The ending to this chapter, is, truly, both disappointing and awesome. The best part is, about 10 chapters later the girl in question does say the word pencil and so he licks her ear. Sweet, because you've forgotten about this by then. By the way, to set up this quote, the girl who gets her pigtails pulled is Leslie, the guy who gets hypnotized is Paul.
Favorite Quote: "Just a short while later, Leslie's pencil point broke. 'Oh, great!" she complained. 'What's the matter?' asked Jenny. Leslie showed her the broken pencil point." -- there are about 3 other setups just like that in the last 2 or 3 paragraphs.
Andrew's Comments: To begin, I must agree with Greg about the sweetness of bringing a hobo to school with you. Also, interestingly enough, this story is second on our combined list, even though it never cracked either of our top 3. in my opinion, the best part of the chapter is at the end, when the kids have a spelling test and they all stop to take their socks off first because hobo Bob convinced them that socks make you stupid.
Favorite quote: during show and tell -- " 'This is a hobo,' said Sharie. 'I found him on the way to school.'"

Greg's Pick -- "Rondi" (Andrew's Number 8)
Andrew's Pick -- "Dameon" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Greg's Comments: Rondi...the best chapter for simple irony in the whole series. I just love how everything Rondi doesn't do is the best. She showed great taste in not wearing the hat, because it goes really well with the boots she also did not wear, etc, etc. Not much more to say about this chapter, because Andrew said pretty much all I wanted to say about it.
Favorite quote: " 'Hey everybody', called Todd. 'Listen to Rondi's joke'. Rondi didn't say a word but the rest of the class began to watch....'The classroom is not the place for jokes' Mrs. Jewls' said. 'But Mrs. Jewls,' said Rondi. 'I didn't tell a joke.' 'Yes I know', said Mrs. Jewls, 'but the funniest jokes are the ones which remain untold.' "
Andrew's Comments: All of my top 3 came from the first book, but what can I say, that's how it worked out. The chapter starts out with Mrs. Jewels class watching a video about turtles. Mrs. Jewels asks Dameon to go ask Louis, the yard teacher, if he wants to watch the movie with them. Of course, as previously explained, Dameon is 30 floors up, and Louis is on the ground. So Dameon has to run down 30 flights of stairs to talk to Louis, then up 30 more to talk to Mrs. Jewels. Dameon has to go up and down the stairs like 3 times before Louis finally decides not to watch the movie because "turtles are too slow." To set up the quote, at the end, Dameon loses his pencil, and when he gets it back, Mrs. Jewels tells everyone to write their name on their pencil to prevent that from happening again.
Favorite quote: "Dameon spent the rest of the day trying to write his name on his pencil."

Greg's Pick -- "Homework" from Wayside School is Falling Down
Andrew's Pick -- "Calvin" (Greg's Number 8)

Greg's Comments: Awesome chapter, Andrew sucks for this not making his list. In this chapter Mrs. Jewls keeps trying to teach the class information but Mac keeps interrupting the teacher by telling random and pointless stories. Then there's no time to finish teaching so Mrs. Jewls assigns the rest as homework. Then at the end of the chapter Mac loudly complains about how Mrs. Jewls must be the meanest teacher in the school for all the homework she gives. Best part of this is how he's telling a story about how he lost his sock this morning, he looked all over and it turned out it was in the refridgerator. Beautiful. It's left unexplained how his sock got in the refridgerator.
Favorite quote: Mac composes a song while looking for his sock -- "I got one sock! Lookin' for the other/ One sock! Lookin' for its brother./ When I find that sock I'll tell you what I'll do/I'll put it on my foot, and I'll stick it in my shoe."
Andrew's Comments: I suck do I? Well Greg sucks for "Dameon" not making his list. There, I said it. But more to the point, Calvin is an amazing chapter. I personally think it's funny that Mrs. Jewels tells him to deliver the note but never actually gives him a note. It's funny, cause he does things like go to the teacher's mailboxes to find Mrs. Zarves mailbox. He isn't disappointed when there isn't one because he didn't have the note in the first place. Also, writing a note to tell someone not to meet you for lunch is a hilarious concept, in my opinion.
Favorite quote: Calvin, musing on his various problems -- " 'I'm supposed to take a note that I don't have to a teacher who doesn't exist, and who teaches on a story that was never built."

Greg's Pick -- "Sammy" from Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Andrew's Pick -- "Sammy" (Greg's Number 1)

Greg's Comments: Sammy, the unanimous, unquestioned number one. There is a new student in Mrs. Jewls class. He keeps insulting people. Also he smells terrible. In fact, his raincoat smells so terrible they make him take it off, but there's another raincoat under it. And so forth, there's like 10 raincoats and each smells worse than the last. Under them all is a dead rat, who has snuck into the class masquerading as a student. Genius. I don't feel like writing any more, so I'll let Andrew fill you in on the rest
Favorite quote: "Dead rats were always trying to sneak into Mrs. Jewls' class. That was the third one since September."
Andrew's Comments: Ah Sammy, the cream of the crop so to speak. There's isn't really much to say, as the pure genius of the chapter can only be absorbed through experiencing it first hand. the sweetest part is when they start throwing his various raincoats out the window because they smell too bad to keep in the classroom.
Favorite quote: "At last, she removed the final coat. All that was there was a dead rat. "Well, I don't allow dead rats in my classroom," said Mrs. Jewels.

Greg's Picks -- "Calvins Big Decision" from Falling Down
"Elevators" from Stranger
"Ron" from Sideways

Andrew's Picks -- "A Bad Case of the Sillies/A Wonderful Teacher/Forever is Never" from Falling Down
"John" from Sideways
"Bebe's Baby Brother" from Falling Down

And now, our comined list, based on the combined rankings of the books on our lists (Add together the ratings of the chapters on our two lists, with a story scoring 11 if it is not on a list)

10. Mr. Gorf (Score 17)
8 (tie). Joe (Score 16)
8 (tie). Eric, Eric, and Eric (Score 16)
7. Dameon (Score 14)
6. Homework (Score 13)
5. Rondi (Score 11)
3 (tie). Calvin (Score 10)
3 (tie). A Story With a Disappointing Ending (Score 10)
2. Another Story About Socks (Score 9)
1. Sammy (Score 2)


Post a Comment

<< Home