Review of Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom [Wayside School]
by Louis Sachar; illus. by Tim Heitz
Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    182 pp.    g
3/20    978-0-06-296538-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-296542-4    $10.99

Yes, per the introductory author's note to this fourth book about the wacky elementary school, it's been forty years since the first one, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. As such, Sachar suggests readers might want to "read the other three first, wait forty years, and then read this one." Alternately, they could "just read it now." The latter is a fine option for the series's fans, who will cheer the return of Mrs. Jewls's class (absent Mrs. Gorf, Sammy the dead rat, and other menacing weirdoes — but with a handful of new ones), Louis the yard teachers, Miss Mush, and others as they are pulled under the meteorological spell of the Cloud of Doom. Kathy turns nice, Stephen strikes a gong, and Calvin delivers a long-awaited note, among other unpredictable adventures. The class tries to amass a million nail clippings (ewww); the kids keep losing their paper clips; and it all kinda-sorta comes together in the end. With its gonzo humor, nonsensical non sequiturs, and mysterious mustachioed grownups, Wayside School fans should eat this up (spaghetti and feetballs, anyone?).

From the March/April 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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