Wayside School Wikia
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Wayside School Wikia
Someday, the Cloud of Doom will be gone, and the world will be a much better place, even better than before the cloud. Colors will be more colorful. Music will be more musical. Even Miss Mush's food will taste good. The bigger the storm, the brighter the rainbow.
Mrs. Jewls in "What's the Point?"

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom is the fourth book in the main Wayside School series, and the sixth book overall. It was written by Louis Sachar, and was published on March 3rd, 2020 by HarperCollins in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it was published by Bloomsbury, releasing March 5th, 2020 digitally, and August 6th, 2020 physically.

Synopsis

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom is the fourth book in the main Wayside School book series. Unlike the previous book, which largely had one cohesive narrative, multiple plot threads run through the length of the book, the most major of which include the titular Cloud of Doom looming above the school, and the students preparing for the Ultimate Test.

Alongside these, however, include threads about a concerted class-effort to collect a million nail clippings, Kathy having her bitter personality reversed, Mrs. Jewls's love of paper clips, the mystery of Mrs. Jewls's closet, various characters getting stuck with Dana's "Doofus Face," Stephen being asked to ring the end-of-day gong, and Jason having to read the longest book in the world. These plots run throughout the course of the book, oftentimes intertwining with one another throughout the various other stories that are told. Nonetheless, Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom retains the same format as previous books, where it is told in thirty short, but interconnected chapters.

Characters

Since the Wayside School series features so many characters, a full list can be seen here.


Chapters

Title Illustration Summary No.

"The Bells of Wayside"

The Bells of Wayside Heitz.png In this introduction of Wayside School's bell system, Todd struggles to make it to class on time. 1
"A Million" A Million Heitz.png Mrs. Jewls looks for ideas of what to collect a million of. 2
"Up and Down" Up and Down Heitz.png Kathy takes D.J. to see Dr. Pickell for his hiccups. 3
"Consider the Paper Clip" Consider the Paper Clip Heitz.png Mrs. Jewls explains the importance of paper clips to her class. 4
"Eric, Eric, and What's-His-Name?" Eric, Eric, and What's-His-Name Heitz.png Eric Ovens hopes to find more recognition after bringing in a large number of nail clippings. 5
"Oppositosis" Oppositosis Heitz.png Kathy is acting a lot nicer than usual, thanks to Dr. Pickell doubling her oppositosis. 6
"The Closet That Wasn't There" The Closet That Wasn't There Heitz.png Mac stumbles upon a heavily-guarded closet, and is curious what's inside. 7
"Science" Science Heitz.png The students spot a mysterious cloud during a science lesson. 8
"The Gonnnnng" The Gonnnnng Heitz.png Louis gives Mr. Kidswatter ideas for how to make the kids like him more. 9
"Stuck" Stuck Heitz.png Dana makes a face, but it winds up getting stuck. 10
"What's the Point?" What's the Point Heitz.png The kids question what the point of anything is as the Cloud of Doom makes them increasingly pessimistic. 11
"Mrs. Surlaw" Mrs. Surlaw Chapter Heitz.png Jason and Allison check out books from the library. 12
"Umbrella" Umbrella Heitz.png Sharie's umbrella saves her from showing up late to class. 13
"Mr. K and Dr. P" Mr. K and Dr. P Heitz.png Confidentially, "Mr. K" tries to get help from "Dr. P" to deal with his face. 14
"The Unbreakables" The Unbreakables Heitz.png Deedee gets help from her unbreakable group of friends to find her homework. 15
"A Short Chapter About a Long Book" A Short Chapter About a Long Book Heitz.png Jason has to read the longest book in the world. 16
"The Best Principal Ever!!!" The Best Principal Ever!!! Heitz.png Mr. Kidswatter picks on a poor sap to ring the gong. 17
"The Mirror" The Mirror Heitz.png Dr. Pickell makes a breakthrough when he looks through a mirror. 18
"Push-Downs" Push-Downs Heitz.png Stephen tries to strengthen himself with push-downs to prepare to ring the gong. 19
"Inside the Closet" Inside the Closet Heitz.png Mrs. Jewls brings Jason inside the closet that is actually there. 20
"Breathe" Breathe Heitz.png The students help assist Stephen as he prepares to ring the gong. 21
"The Moment" The Moment Heitz.png Stephen finally gets to ring the gong. 22
"Blame It on the Cloud" Blame It on the Cloud Heitz.png The students use the Cloud of Doom as a scapegoat for their misbehavior. 23
"The Ultimate Test, Day One" The Ultimate Test, Day One Heitz.png Mrs. Jewls's class holds a spelling bee as part of the Ultimate Test. 24
"Jump Rope Arithmetic" Jump Rope Arithmetic Heitz.png Joy sets a new record for the jump rope arithmetic section of the Ultimate Test. 25
"The Ultimate, Ultimate Test" The Ultimate, Ultimate Test Heitz.png Deedee faces various setbacks during the Stairway Quiz in the Ultimate Test. 26
"Kachooga Boop" Kachooga Boop Heitz.png The kids in Mrs. Jewls's class hear a threatening bell they've never heard before. 27
"The Teacher With the Long Fingernail" The Teacher With the Long Fingernail Heitz.png The students take refuge in Miss Zarves's class. 28
"After the Storm" After the Storm Heitz.png The students enjoy a prolonged recess after the Cloud of Doom clears. 29
"Rainbow" Rainbow Heitz.png Miss Mush and Mr. Pepperadder improvise rainbow stew for lunch. 30

Reception

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom has been positively received by both critics and audiences alike. A review by Kirkus Reviews praised that the formula for the book series has not grown old, positively assessing that the series is "still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs." The review positively noted how the stories, while episodic in nature, often tied together, sometimes even to previous books, and in the end summarized that the book is "scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush's improvised 'Rainbow Stew.'" However, the review did note that the diversity of the class was portrayed better in the illustrations than in the text.[1]

A review by Publisher's Weekly was similarly positive, stating that "Sachar's snappy comedic stride doesn’t miss a beat in his series’ fourth installment—the first since 1995's Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger—as the curiosities of Mrs. Jewls's 30th-floor classroom multiply more quickly than ever." Additionally the review noted that "Into the regaling levity, Sachar characteristically slips worthy nuggets about the rewards of kindness and friendship."[2]

Prior to the book's release, it additionally received positive scores from audiences, scoring at a 4.36/5 stars on Goodreads, with 50 ratings. Currently, with 606 ratings, the book sits with a score of 4.21/5 stars on Goodreads, showing a positive assessment by audiences.

Timeline

  • In a Mashable interview published October 29, 2015, Louis Sachar was asked if he would write a fourth Wayside School book in the future. At the time, he said he had thought about it, but he wasn't sure if he would or not. [3]
  • An article from The New Yorker suggests that by 2017, the first two drafts of this book were finished. According to Louis Sachar, the book is set in a "nice version of our world," as opposed to his previous book, Fuzzy Mud's dystopia.[4]
  • On March 6, 2019, Louis Sachar posted on his Facebook page that he had finished writing his latest book with the initials "WSBTCOD."[5]
  • On April 12, 2019, Louis Sachar made a public appearance at Austin Public Library, confirming the new book to be a new Wayside School title. It is revealed to be due for publication in 2020.[6]
  • On an unknown date, presumably July of 2019, the title Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom was added to the HarperCollins website, and the release date was confirmed to be March 3rd, 2020.[7]
    • At the same time, various other sources, such as Google Books[8] and Blackwell's[9] state that the book "Follows the adventures and misadventures of students and staff as they cope with the effects of a large, gloomy cloud that has settled over Wayside School." Additionally, they cite Tim Heitz as the illustrator, likely to match the 2019 editions of the previous three books.
  • The title was revealed officially on Publisher's Weekly by August 15, 2019, alongside the first picture of the front cover. The cover depicts the roof of Wayside School and the windows of the floor below, with a large thundercloud looming over the building. Visible is Mrs. Jewls opening a trapdoor on the roof, Bebe Gunn painting a picture of the titular cloud, Joy jumping rope, Terrence kicking the wastepaper basket out the window, and Mac dressed in sporting gear, holding a basketball.[10]
  • In late August 2019, Louis Sachar's website updated to reflect the book's release.[11]
  • In early September of 2019, a more detailed blurb for the book was released on the HarperCollins website:
    • For the first time in twenty-five years, Wayside School is back in session in this brand-new, fourth installment in the perennially beloved and bestselling series by Newbery Medal-winning author Louis Sachar.
      Welcome back to Wayside School!
      Your favorite students and teachers are all here. That includes Sharie, who loves her striped-and-spotted umbrella more than anything; Kathy, who has a bad case of oppositosis; Jason, who has to read the longest book in the world; and the rest of Mrs. Jewls's class on the thirtieth floor, who are busily collecting toenail clippings.
      Everyone is scrambling to prepare for the all-important Ultimate Test, but meanwhile, there is a mysterious Cloud of Doom looming above them…
      More than fifteen million readers in the U.S. have laughed at the clever and hilarious stories of Wayside School. So what are you waiting for? Come visit Wayside School!
  • A review of the book published on September 29, 2019 confirmed more details about the book, including additional chapters of the book, more details on chapters that were previously confirmed, as well as officially confirming the book is thirty chapters long and primarily episodic, though elements bind them to each other, and to previous books.[1]
  • Goodreads reviews from the pre-release period confirm the return of additional characters, such as Dr. Pickell[12], the three Erics, and Louis.[13]
  • At an unknown date, the Bloomsbury website updated, scheduling the book for an August 6th, 2020 release date in the UK with illustrations by Aleksei Bitskoff, as well as an alternate summary for the book[14]:
    • It's a new year at Wayside School, and Mrs Jewls's class on the thirtieth floor has a LOT to deal with. First of all, they must prepare to face The Ultimate Test, which involves a fiendishly difficult Spelling Bee, upside-down singing and blindfolded smelling. Meanwhile the paperclips are triple-locked in a safe so no one can access them, Miss Mush is threatening to serve rainbow stew for lunch – and a CLOUD OF DOOM is gathering over the school. It can only mean one thing … the kids at Wayside School are in for their strangest year yet!
      From the basement to the thirtieth floor, Wayside is packed with quirky and hilarious characters who are all brought to life in this brand-new instalment [sic] of Louis Sachar's much-loved Wayside School series. With brilliant illustrations throughout, this is an unmissable, irrepressible story of mixed-up mayhem from the bestselling author of Holes.
  • On December 19, 2019, a Publisher's Weekly review of the book released, revealing more details about previously acknowledged chapters.[2]
  • Roughly a month before the book's release, a preview of the first two chapters was added to the HarperCollins website.[15]

Trivia

  • With twelve years between Season 2 of Wayside ending and this book's publication date, the gap between the two marks the longest hiatus between any two pieces of Wayside School media. If the cartoon is excluded, the gap between this book and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger is almost twenty-five years, an even more significant gap.
  • This is the first book where chapter 19 does not involve the nineteenth story in any way, whatsoever.
  • This is the first book not to introduce any new major characters, though Mrs. Surlaw, a character that had only previously appeared unnamed in "Allison," gets a more major role than before, and Mr. Pepperadder finally appears in the main series, after only appearing in Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School beforehand.

References

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