Three Sideways Stories From Wayside School
By Louis Sachar
Reader’s Theater Edition #32
Adapted for reader’s theater (or readers theatre) by Aaron Shepard, from Louis Sachar’s book Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Avon, New York, 1985
For more reader’s theater, visit Aaron Shepard’s RT Page at
Story copyright © 1985 Louis Sachar. Script copyright © 1993, 2003, 2005 Aaron Shepard. Produced by permission of Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corporation. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except they may not be posted online without permission.
PREVIEW: Some say the teachers and students at Wayside School are strange and silly—and so will you!
THEME: Non-horizontal thinking
READER AGES: 8–12
LENGTH: 12 minutes (1/2 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 1/2)
ROLES: Narrators 1–4, Mrs. Jewls, Joe, Bebe, Calvin, Louis
NOTES: Louis Sachar is the author of Holes, a Newbery Medal winner as well as the source of a major film. Other Wayside books by Sachar are Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger and Wayside School Is Falling Down. For best effect, place NARRATORS 1 and 2 at far left, and 3 and 4 at far right, as seen from the audience.
NARRATOR 4: But before we get to them, there is something you ought to know. Wayside School was accidentally built sideways.
NARRATOR 2: It was supposed to be only one story high, with thirty classrooms all in a row. Instead, it is thirty stories high, with one classroom on each story.
NARRATOR 3: The builder said he was very sorry.
NARRATOR 1: Our first story is about Joe. One day, Mrs. Jewls kept him in from recess.
MRS. JEWLS: Joe, you are going to have to learn to count.
JOE: But, Mrs. Jewls, I already know how to count. Let me go to recess!
MRS. JEWLS: First count to ten.
NARRATOR 4: Joe counted to ten.
JOE: Six, eight, twelve, one, five, two, seven, eleven, three, ten.
MRS. JEWLS: No, Joe, that is wrong.
JOE: No, it isn’t! I counted till I got to ten!
MRS. JEWLS: But you were wrong. I’ll prove it to you.
NARRATOR 2: She put down five pencils.
MRS. JEWLS: How many pencils do we have here, Joe?
NARRATOR 3: Joe counted the pencils.
JOE: Four, six, one, nine, five. There are five pencils, Mrs. Jewls.
MRS. JEWLS: That’s wrong.
JOE: How many pencils are there?
MRS. JEWLS: Five.
JOE: That’s what I said! May I go to recess now?
MRS. JEWLS: No. You got the right answer, but you counted the wrong way. You were just lucky.
NARRATOR 1: She set down eight potatoes.
MRS. JEWLS: How many potatoes, Joe?
NARRATOR 4: Joe counted the potatoes.
JOE: Seven, five, three, one, two, four, six, eight. There are eight potatoes, Mrs. Jewls.
MRS. JEWLS: No, there are eight.
JOE: But that’s what I said! May I go to recess now?
MRS. JEWLS: No! You got the right answer, but you counted the wrong way again.
NARRATOR 2: She put down three books.
MRS. JEWLS: Count the books, Joe.
NARRATOR 3: Joe counted the books.
JOE: A thousand, a million, three. Three, Mrs. Jewls.
MRS. JEWLS: (bewildered) Correct.
JOE: May I go to recess now?
MRS. JEWLS: No.
JOE: May I have a potato?
MRS. JEWLS: No! Listen to me. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Now you say it.
JOE: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
MRS. JEWLS: Very good!
NARRATOR 1: She put down six erasers.
MRS. JEWLS: Now, count the erasers, Joe, just the way I showed you.
NARRATOR 4: Joe counted the erasers.
JOE: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. There are ten, Mrs. Jewls.
MRS. JEWLS: No!
JOE: Didn’t I count right?
MRS. JEWLS: Yes, you counted right, but you got the wrong answer.
JOE: This doesn’t make any sense! When I count the wrong way, I get the right answer, and when I count right, I get the wrong answer.
MRS. JEWLS: (in great frustration) Ooh!
NARRATOR 2: Mrs. Jewls hit her head against the wall five times.
MRS. JEWLS: (turning away and butting her head) Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . . (turns back to JOE) How many times did I hit my head against the wall, Joe?
JOE: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. You hit your head against the wall ten times.
MRS. JEWLS: No!
JOE: Four, six, one, nine, five. You hit your head five times.
NARRATOR 3: Mrs. Jewls shook her head no and said,
MRS. JEWLS: (shaking head) Yes, that is right.
NARRATOR 1: Just then, the bell rang.
JOE: Oh, darn.
NARRATOR 4: . . . said Joe.
JOE: I missed recess!
NARRATOR 3: Our second story is about Bebe.
NARRATOR 1: Bebe was the fastest draw in Mrs. Jewls’s class. She could draw a cat in less than forty-five seconds, a dog in less than thirty, and a flower in less than eight seconds!
NARRATOR 4: But of course, Bebe never drew just one dog, or one cat, or one flower.
NARRATOR 2: Art was from 12:30 to 1:30. Why, in that time, she could draw fifty cats, a hundred flowers, twenty dogs, and several eggs or watermelons!
NARRATOR 3: You see, it took her the same time to draw a watermelon as an egg.
NARRATOR 1: Calvin sat next to Bebe. He didn’t think he was very good at art. It took him the whole period just to draw one airplane.
NARRATOR 4: So instead, he just helped Bebe. He was Bebe’s assistant.
NARRATOR 2: As soon as Bebe would finish one masterpiece, Calvin would take it from her and set down a clean sheet of paper. Whenever her crayon ran low, Calvin was ready with a new crayon.
NARRATOR 3: That way, Bebe didn’t have to waste any time. And in return, Bebe would draw five or six airplanes for Calvin.
NARRATOR 1: It was 12:30, time for art.
NARRATOR 4: Bebe was ready. On her desk was a sheet of yellow construction paper. In her hand was a green crayon.
NARRATOR 2: Calvin was ready. He held a stack of paper and a box of crayons.
CALVIN: Ready, Bebe?
BEBE: Ready, Calvin.
MRS. JEWLS: All right, class.
NARRATOR 3: . . . said Mrs. Jewls.
MRS. JEWLS: Time for art.
NARRATOR 1: She had hardly finished her sentence when Bebe had drawn a picture of a leaf.
NARRATOR 4: Calvin took it from her and put down another piece of paper.
NARRATOR 2: Calvin handed Bebe a red crayon.
NARRATOR 3: He gave her a blue crayon.
NARRATOR 1: They were quite a pair! Their teamwork was remarkable.
NARRATOR 4: Bebe drew pictures as fast as Calvin could pick up the old paper and set down the new.
NARRATOR 2: A fish.
NARRATOR 3: An apple.
NARRATOR 1: Three cherries—
NARRATOR 4: bing,
NARRATOR 2: bing,
NARRATOR 3: bing.
NARRATOR 1: At 1:30, Mrs. Jewls announced,
MRS. JEWLS: Okay, class, art is over.
NARRATOR 4: Bebe dropped her crayon and fell over on her desk.
NARRATOR 2: Calvin sighed and leaned back in his chair. He could hardly move.
NARRATOR 3: They had broken their old record. Bebe had drawn three hundred and seventy-eight pictures! They lay in a pile on Calvin’s desk.
NARRATOR 1: Mrs. Jewls walked by.
MRS. JEWLS: Calvin, did you draw all these pictures?
CALVIN: No, Bebe drew them all.
MRS. JEWLS: Well then, what did you draw?
CALVIN: I didn’t draw anything.
MRS. JEWLS: Why not? Don’t you like art?
CALVIN: I love art. That’s why I didn’t draw anything.
MRS. JEWLS: I don’t understand.
CALVIN: It would have taken me the whole period just to draw one picture. And Bebe would only have been able to draw a hundred pictures. But with the two of us working together, she was able to draw three hundred and seventy-eight pictures! That’s a lot more art.
NARRATOR 4: Bebe and Calvin shook hands.
MRS. JEWLS: No, no! That isn’t how you measure art. It isn’t how many pictures you have, but how good the pictures are. Why, a person could spend their whole life drawing just one picture of a cat. In that time, I’m sure Bebe could draw a million cats.
BEBE: Two million.
MRS. JEWLS: But if that one picture is better than each of Bebe’s two million, then that person has produced more art than Bebe.
NARRATOR 2: Bebe looked like she was going to cry. She picked up all the pictures from Calvin’s desk and threw them in the garbage.
NARRATOR 3: Then she ran from the room, down all the stairs, and out onto the playground.
NARRATOR 1: Louis, the nice yard teacher, spotted her.
LOUIS: Where are you going, Bebe?
BEBE: I’m going home to draw a picture of a cat.
LOUIS: Will you bring it to school and show it to me tomorrow?
BEBE: Tomorrow? By tomorrow I doubt I’ll be finished with even one whisker. (rushes off)
NARRATOR 2: Our final story is about Calvin. One day, Mrs. Jewls said,
MRS. JEWLS: Calvin, I want you to take this note to Miss Zarves for me.
CALVIN: Miss Zarves?
MRS. JEWLS: Yes, Miss Zarves. You know where she is, don’t you?
CALVIN: Yes. She’s on the nineteenth story.
MRS. JEWLS: That’s right, Calvin. Take it to her.
NARRATOR 3: Calvin didn’t move.
MRS. JEWLS: Well, what are you waiting for?
CALVIN: She’s on the nineteenth story.
MRS. JEWLS: Yes, we have already established that fact.
CALVIN: The nineteenth story.
MRS. JEWLS: Yes, Calvin, the nineteenth story. Now take it to her before I lose my patience!
CALVIN: But, Mrs. Jewls—
MRS. JEWLS: NOW, Calvin!
CALVIN: Yes, ma’am!
NARRATOR 1: Calvin walked out of the classroom and stood outside the door.
NARRATOR 4: He didn’t know where to go.
NARRATOR 2: As you know, when the builder built Wayside School, he accidentally built it sideways. But he also forgot to build the nineteenth story.
NARRATOR 3: He built the eighteenth and the twentieth, but no nineteenth. He said he was very sorry.
NARRATOR 1: There was also no Miss Zarves.
NARRATOR 4: Miss Zarves taught the class on the nineteenth story. Since there was no nineteenth story, there was no Miss Zarves.
NARRATOR 2: And besides that, as if Calvin didn’t have enough problems, there was no note.
NARRATOR 3: Mrs. Jewls had never given Calvin the note.
CALVIN: (sarcastically) Boy, this is just great! I’m supposed to take a note that I don’t have, to a teacher who doesn’t exist, and who teaches on a story that was never built!
NARRATOR 1: He didn’t know what to do.
NARRATOR 4: He walked down to the eighteenth story,
NARRATOR 2: then back up to the twentieth,
NARRATOR 3: then back down to the eighteenth,
NARRATOR 1: and back up again to the twentieth.
NARRATOR 4: There was no nineteenth story.
NARRATOR 2: There had never been a nineteenth story.
NARRATOR 3: There would never BE a nineteenth story.
NARRATOR 1: Calvin walked down to the administration office on the first story. He decided to put the note in Miss Zarves’s mailbox.
NARRATOR 4: But there wasn’t one of those, either. That didn’t bother Calvin too much, though, since he didn’t have a note.
NARRATOR 2: He looked out the window and saw Louis, the yard teacher, shooting baskets.
CALVIN: Louis will know what to do.
NARRATOR 3: Calvin went outside.
CALVIN: Hey, Louis!
LOUIS: Hi, Calvin. Do you want to play a game?
CALVIN: I don’t have time. I have to deliver a note to Miss Zarves up on the nineteenth story.
LOUIS: Then what are you doing all the way down here?
CALVIN: There is no nineteenth story.
LOUIS: Then where is Miss Zarves?
CALVIN: There is no Miss Zarves.
LOUIS: What are you going to do with the note?
CALVIN: There is no note.
LOUIS: I understand.
CALVIN: That’s good, because I sure don’t.
LOUIS: It’s very simple. You are not supposed to take no notes to no teachers. You already haven’t done it!
NARRATOR 1: Calvin still didn’t understand.
CALVIN: I’ll just have to tell Mrs. Jewls that I couldn’t deliver the note.
LOUIS: That’s good. The truth is always best. Besides, I don’t think I understand what I said, either!
NARRATOR 4: Calvin walked back up the thirty flights of stairs to Mrs. Jewls’s class.
MRS. JEWLS: Thank you very much, Calvin.
CALVIN: But I—
MRS. JEWLS: That was a very important note, and I’m glad I was able to count on you.
CALVIN: Yes, but you see—
MRS. JEWLS: The note was very important. I told Miss Zarves not to meet me for lunch.
CALVIN: Don’t worry.
NARRATOR 2: . . . said Calvin.
CALVIN: She won’t!
NARRATOR 1: So now you know about Wayside School. Some people say these stories are strange and silly.
NARRATOR 4: That is probably true.
NARRATOR 2: But when the children at Wayside School heard stories about us, they thought we were strange and silly.
NARRATOR 3: And that’s for sure!
Read the book!
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar