In brief: Wayside School is definitely not normal. A dead rat infiltrates the third grade classroom in a dirty raincoat. A particularly nasty teacher turns her pupils into apples. Maurecia eats people-flavored ice cream. (It’s not what you think.) Leslie tries to sell of her toes. Poor Todd gets sent home on the kindergarten bus every day. Kathy hates everyone. And what really happened to the 19th floor?
What makes it a great readaloud: You might have trouble finishing sentences because you’re laughing so hard, but that’s just part of the fun. It’s easy to see this book—a collection of interrelated stories—as a precursor to satirists like Vonnegut or Heller—it’s full of hilarious moments that, on reflection, critique everything from stereotyping to the education system in some pretty spot-on ways. Mostly, though, it’s just plain fun to read, full of silly adventure and memorably odd characters.
But be aware: Some of the humor might seem a little mean or old-fashioned to modern-day readers.
Quotable: “Dameon had hazel eyes with a little black dot in the middle of each of them. The dots were called pupils. So was Dameon. He was a pupil in Mrs. Jewl’s class.”