Study Guide

Sideways Stories From Wayside School Versions of Reality

By Louis Sachar

Versions of Reality

"Oh, I've made a big mistake, Maurecia. Of course you can't taste anything. It's Maurecia-flavored ice cream. It's the same taste you always taste when you're not tasting anything at all." (9.21)

Who doesn't love an alternate reality where you can have ice cream flavored to taste like your friends? (And who hasn't wondered, after reading this, what their own ice cream might taste like?)

"We'll just have to turn your mosquito bites into numbers." (11.22)

You know you're in the Wayside universe when a teacher proposes this solution and it actually works. After Mrs. Jewls has Dana count her mosquito bites, her itching vanishes.

As soon as Mrs. Jewls stepped out the door, Rondi and Allison jumped up from their seats and started to tickle Jason. He laughed until his hair turned purple. (12.29)

Everything seems totally normal in this classroom until someone's hair turns purple, doesn't it?

Dead rats were always trying to sneak into Mrs. Jewls's class. That was the third one she'd caught since September. (14.42)

Even though Maurecia-flavored ice cream sounds great, we'd rather not go to school at Wayside if this version of reality has a lot of visiting dead rats.

The whole room seemed to be laughing, not just the people in it. The blackboard chuckled. The ceiling snickered. The desks were jumping up and down, and the chairs were slapping one another on the back. The floor was very ticklish. It laughed until the walls turned purple. The wastepaper basket started to sing, and all the pencils stood up and danced. (16.10)

If this isn't a good description of a totally different reality, we don't know what is. Where to start—the purple walls or the dancing pencils?

"Hey! I can still read the blackboard, and I'm not upside down. I can read right side up now. When I fell, I must have flipped my brain or something." (17.26)

Because everything at Wayside School is just a little bit off, it's possible to flip your brain when you stand on your head. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story. Sorry. (19.1)

The non-existent Miss Zarves and the missing nineteenth story are a fabulous example of the kind of nonsense that's possible in the Wayside Universe.

They both spun around one hundred times in opposite directions until they were so dizzy that they fell over. When they stood up, Mac was Nancy and Nancy was Mac. (28.24)

If you want to swap names with someone at Wayside School, all you have to do is spin around until you fall over. Just be careful you don't flip your brain over in the process.

"When two plus two doesn't equal four, anything can happen." (29.42)

Have you ever imagined a reality where two plus two doesn't equal four? When arithmetic goes wrong, we're definitely out of the ordinary.

"We don't really go in for fairy tales here. I'm trying to teach my class the truth." (30.46)

Pay attention, class, because this is a really great example of irony. Mrs. Jewls's version of reality reads a whole lot like fairy tales to us, doesn't it?