Louis Sachar was The Man when I was a kid. While HOLES is one of his most popular books and spawned its own movie, I knew him first from The Wayside School trilogy. I have a vivid memory from the third grade, sitting in the unairconditioned third floor room of my ancient elementary school and my teacher Miss Lucas reading WAYSIDE SCHOOL IS FALLING DOWN to us before lunch. One chapter at a time.
Something you should know about me as a young reader: I hated only getting to experience one chapter per sitting of a book. So later that day during our library time I checked out not one, not two, but all 3 Wayside School books at a time. Most kids were only allowed one book at a time but I had an exception because I read so fast and so often.
I was done with the books in a week.
As I got older I ended up getting my own copies of these books. They quickly became personal favorites. They were short and they were weird, just they way I liked it at the time. Each chapter was usually set up as an individual story within the school world. Each character had a weird quirk, a strange name, or something else to set them apart.
When I discovered audiobooks, the Wayside trilogy was one of my first picks and they were just as funny if not funnier read by the narrator.
Sachar has a way with kids minds, I think. More recently after being sent a copy of a newer Sacher book, Fuzzy Mud, I felt what I felt back then. That though Sachar’s books are weird beyond belief, they really appeal to the kid in everyone. Not just actual kids.
The Wayside books inspired a few spin offs. A quirky math book, a cartoon TV show I didn’t know existed until recently, and more. So if your kid likes weird comedic books, pick them up some Wayside books. They’re still a favorite of mine now at 25 just as they were then at 8.
Which Wayside School book was your favorite? I think mine is WAYSIDE SCHOOL GETS A LITTLE STRANGER.
What were your favorite books to read as a kid before YA got big? Share your pick and maybe I’ll write about it too!
From my shel to yours,