Study Guide

Sideways Stories From Wayside School Chapter 17

By Louis Sachar

Chapter 17

John

  • Next up: John, who's very smart but can only read words written upside down. (Sounds kind of like Joe, who couldn't count right—and in fact, Joe is John's best friend.) John just turns his book upside down rather than try to learn to read correctly.
  • Mrs. Jewls tells John that he can't spend the rest of his life turning his books upside down. John asks her why not, and she reminds him that he can't turn the blackboard upside down if she writes on it. Her solution: "You are going to have to learn to stand on your head" (17.9). Which is certainly one way of fixing things…
  • John can't stand on his head. Joe can stand on John's head, however, which is what they do every time John falls over.
  • Mrs. Jewls gets John a pillow, and the class tries to help by propping him upside down. It works.
  • Hey, Shmoopsters: the next paragraph in the book is actually printed upside down, so we get to see the world the way John does. Pretty great, right?
  • And then John falls over and hits the ground hard. When he gets up, he can read correctly. "When I fell, I must have flipped my brain or something" (17.26), he says.
  • Mrs. Jewls offers John a Tootsie Roll pop to congratulate him. Instead of looking on top of the desk for one, John looks underneath it. Uh-oh…