Yet another installment of the Wayside School series. After two hundred and forty three days, the yard teacher, Louis, has finally fixed up the school after a cow invasion. The students are relieved to be back, but soon learn that their beloved Mrs. Jewls is having a baby, leaving them in the hands of substitute teachers.
Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger features the same twisted humor as the first two books, but this time it’s a teensy bit more adult in tone. Not so much that I’d stop a kid from reading it, but enough that I wouldn’t use it as a classroom read aloud. Also of note, there’s a chapter where Kathy, the always-mean girl, tells the other children that there is no Santa. The other children aren’t sure one way or another. While this will not likely be any problem for middle grades students, it may pose a problem for some younger readers.
Louis Sachar again includes a whimsical chapter – no reading backwards this time, but there’s a story where all the children bring their pets to school. The pets have the names of other students, proper nouns and even question words. The result is a highly confusing chapter that seems a bit “Who’s on First” inspired. The end of the story includes a list of the children and their pets’ names so readers can try to sort out what really happened.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A lady’s husband doesn’t want to kiss her because she smokes and her breath stinks. After she’s quit smoking they kiss and make up when they fight. Eric thinks Brazil is “one of those things women wear on their bosom.” The teacher corrects him to say that he’s thinking of a “brassiere,” and a few children repeat the word. Mrs. Drazil tells the children she’s kissed 31 men. Paul licks Leslie’s ear. When Louis, the yard teacher, shaves his mustache the girls think he’s handsome and one says she’s in love. Dr. Payne and her husband hug and kiss. Girls talk about boys being cute and ask each other “are you going to marry him”. Xavier and Wendy (who are adults) talk about marriage and Xavier nibbles Wendy’s ear. The kids tease Louis about liking Miss Nogard. They ask if he loves her, tell him to put his arm around her, tell him to take her dancing and hold her real close. They tell Miss Nogard that he dreams of her every night. Miss Nogard speculates that Louis’s mustache would tickle if they kissed. The students tell Louis that she is hot for him and wants to kiss him. Eventually they kiss in front of the class.
Profanity – “darn,” “jerk,”
Death, Violence and Gore – At one girl’s school she reports that the teacher would kill you if you didn’t spell exaggerate correctly. A woman slaps her husband every time he says potato. Mr. Gorf’s nose is sneezed off and Miss Mush takes it to cook. While doing a show and tell about a shoelace, Mac talks about bleeding blisters, bloody footprints, nailing shoes to your feet and peeling off layers of your skin. Terrence gets a bloody nose.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A woman is successfully hypnotized to stop smoking. Dr. Payne’s husband’s name is Sham.
Frightening or Intense Things – None