When the Wayside School was built, the builders got mixed up. Instead of creating thirty classrooms side by side, they created one building with thirty stories (although there is no 19th story.) The kids who attend this school in the classroom at the very top of the building are about as wacky and strange as one would assume of pupils on the 30th floor. The book is essentially a collection of short stories, one about each child in the class, plus the teacher (originally a witch, but later, after the witch is destroyed by an unsuspecting gym teacher, a pleasant but charmingly oblivious young woman.)
Originally published in 1978, Sideways Stories has been enjoyed by successive waves of children. The stories are short and funny, with a breezy tone. While there’s not a lot of character development, such elements are completely beside the point. The important part is the humor, and that the book has in spades.
From the lack of a 19th story (and hence, a lack of a 19th story in the story collection) to a teacher that turns students into apples, to a dead rat that constantly tries to sneak its way into the classroom, the collection is chock full of strange situations and weird characters; it’s no wonder that it has been a favorite of children for the past thirty years.