Review Blog

Apr 08 2020

Wayside School: Beneath the cloud of doom by Louis Sachar

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Illus. by Tim Heitz. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526623423.
(Age: 7-10 years). Recommended. Louis Sachar has written the fourth book in his popular series, Wayside School after a twenty-five year hiatus. Beneath the Cloud of Doom is complete with familiar characters, both teachers and students, as well as an impending Cloud of Doom hovering above Wayside School. Wayside School is 30 storeys high with one class on each floor. All sorts of unusual sounding bells ring every day with different meanings to keep both teachers and students on their toes. Throughout the short chapters the characters on the thirtieth floor and their idiosyncrasies are reintroduced in a humorous and entertaining way. Their teacher is Mrs Jewls who has a DISCIPLINE board in her classroom where students must write their names if they do something wrong. There is Kathy who has a bad case of oppositosis and always appears to be rude. After she visits the on-site school medico Dr Pickle, changes occur in her manner. Terence who counts up the number of things he can kick during the day. Dana who can make funny faces but one goes mysteriously wrong with unusual consequences. Mrs Surlaw is the Librarian who organises both fiction and nonfiction books into the number of pages collection. Jason has chosen one with 999 pages as he tries to outdo another student. All of the students must face the Ultimate Test which has some amazing events such as upside down singing, blindfold smelling plus Jump Rope Arithmetic and Stairway Quiz. Added to the general day-to-day goings on in the busy school is a huge black cloud suspended over the school which causes anxiety and major complications for everyone. Louis Sachar himself features prominently in the book as the PE teacher who helps support the Principal and the students.
Students in the middle primary years will enjoy the humour and fast paced storyline. Clever illustrations by Tim Heitz are spaced throughout the book and add to the overall appeal of this easy and entertaining read. Themes: Humour, School, Teachers, Classmates, Mysterious happenings.
Kathryn Beilby

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