© 2020 Louis Sachar
I was a weekly visitor to my childhood library, always bringing home a fresh pile of books — but some books I checked out over and over again. Sideways Stories from Wayside High and its sequels were at the top of the light. Louis Sachar introduced kids to an absurd place; a school building with a 19th story that didn’t exist (most of the time), where it was not outside the realm of possibility that a dead rat might try to sneak in as a student, where there are kid-flavored ice creams and the bounciness of a ball is determined by its color. Recently I revisited the first book, Sideways, and was amused by how many of the characters and stories have been etched into my mind over the years. My visit was prompted by the announcement that a sequel would be released — a sequel to a series thirty years old! I was eager to get my hands on it, and I was not disappointed.
When the book opens, it’s business as usual at Wayside High: both the odd and the normal are going on. Kathy is still mean, Paul is forever tempted to yank Leslie’s pigtails, and the school doctor is hypnotizing people. But then a cloud of doom begins to approach the school, and the general amount of chaos increases. I’m not going to say anything about the plot, but Sachar is definitely writing to his fans, with an impressive amount of references to the original books. My favorite was in chapter 29, and involves — well, I don’t want to spoil anything. I was slightly disappointed that the levels of the building were called floors instead of stories, though, because it meant that my favorite gag from Sideways Stories — the missing 19th story — wouldn’t be repeated. On the whole, though, it’s a return to an old, silly friend, and I’m glad Sachar decided to play with the series again. Special thanks to Sarah for making me aware it was being released!