Louis Sachar restores my faith that it is possible to write something hilarious about school without completely demeaning both children and teachers. I made it exactly six pages into this before I laughed out loud. Wayside school is a bit twisted. It’s for kids with a smart and off sense of humor. This book should appeal to both boys and girls, as the stories involve fun and interesting characters of both genders.
Given the level of vocabulary, I would say that advanced third graders could read this, but that it’s probably more on a fourth grade level.
Great for: Short attention spans. Sideways stories is thirty (super short – 4 page) chapters long. Each chapter is a unique but related story. For kids that have trouble sustaining reading, this is a great choice. It’s also so funny that even reluctant readers may find themselves laughing aloud.
This would also make a great read aloud for teachers. The short chapters are perfect because you have plenty of natural stopping places, and the book will surely capture your class’s attention.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A boy gets kissed on the nose. Another boy gets stuck to a chair and they debate cutting off his pants to free him.
Profanity – “darn,” “stupid,” and “dumb”
Death, Violence and Gore – A bit of banging heads on walls and people slapping themselves in the face. Robbers enter holding guns. A girl’s name is Bebe Gunn. A bit of biting and punching and kicking. There is threat to knock out someone’s teeth. There’s a dead rat. A kid says that next time he gets a cat he’ll kill it so it can never run away. A teacher is turned into an apple and eaten. A girl considers selling her toes to be used as little hot dogs.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None
Frightening or Intense Things – None