Saturday, November 08, 2008

Review - Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Sideways Stories from Wayside SchoolMy kids and I just finished reading this book aloud one story a night. The humorous stories and ridiculous situations entertained all three kids (aged 4 through 8) and I found myself laughing aloud with them ad the adventures of the kids on the 30th story.

Characters

Each story focuses primarily on a different character so trying to lump all of the characters together into a single review category is difficult. The two character persistent throughout the book, Mrs. Jewls and Louis, are interesting in that they are the only adults (once Mrs. Gorf is gone) and yet their behaviors are just as outrageous as those of the children.

Where the characters really shine is in their simple, child-like logic not tainted by the "reality" of adult experience and education. Each of the characters find themselves in unique situations and react with matter-of-fact that are very true depictions of the mindset of a child.

The simplicity and innocence of the characters' thinking serves as a great commentary not only on the humorous and sometimes foolish predicaments that they find themselves in, but also on the fact that sometimes those innocent and simple ideals are just as effective (or even more effective) than the "logical" views of the adult world.

Plot/Pacing/Setting/Etc

Each story had its own plot that was generally wrapped up within the story itself. Sometimes elements of one story will show up later in another story.

The pacing is quick and engaging. Never did my kids get bored during the reading. If anything, the pacing may have been too quick at times since the kids were often bummed that a story was over too quickly.

The setting of Wayside school was a quirky and unique exploration of a school. I loved the idea that the construction crew made a mistake and built the rooms one on top of another instead of side by side as in a "normal" school.

I especially loved the last chapter where Louis tells the kids about other schools...and how strange they (we) are.

Overall

This is a great collection of stories...essentially a collection of children's fables (although unlike a "true" fable, the morals are often left unsaid or less pronounced). The humor and wit is entertaining both for kids and adults and makes for an entertaining read.

By breaking the book out into a series of many very short stories, this book becomes something that can be picked up for a quick 5-10 minutes of reading or can be lounged over for an hour or so. The language is simple enough that an early reader (1st-2nd grade) should be able to read it on his/her own. It's definitely a lot of fun to read aloud with kids and I'm glad I went that route with my kids.

I look forward to finding more stories from Wayside school.

****
4 stars

1 comment:

dema miranda said...

This book was actually one of my favorites growing up, and when I was a little bit older, I enjoyed the same author's book Holes.