Facts About Every Student From the 30th Story of Wayside School

Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School series is still a favorite of elementary-age kids, decades after the first book hit the shelves. Each of the three books features 30 chapters -- one for each floor of the Wayside School building -- and each chapter (usually) features one student. Here are a few facts about each of the 30 students in Mrs. Jewls' class on the 30th story.

1. Allison was once stuck in Miss Zarves' class on the 19th floor for a week after she wondered whether Mrs. Jewls' class was really on the 29th floor, since the 19th story doesn't exist. (Sorry.) She knocked out Rondi's adorable front teeth.

2. Bebe Gunn's little brother Ray is trapped on the 19th story. (He's there because she made him up, and like a lot of things that don't exist, he's in Miss Zarves' class.) Bebe Gunn is the fastest drawer in class; she can knock out a picture of a flower in under 8 seconds.

3. Benjamin Nushmutt is called Mark Miller by everyone in class because he was too shy to correct Mrs. Jewls when she first introduced him. A student named Mark Miller is in Miss Zarves' class, but everyone calls him Benjamin Nushmutt. He has no idea why.

4. Calvin has a tattoo of a potato, and is best friends and drawing partners with Bebe. He has a cat named Mrs. Jewls. He was once sent to deliver a note to the 19th story, but Mrs. Jewls (the teacher) forgot to give him the note, and he didn't know how to find the 19th story because it doesn't exist. (Sorry.) So he went back to class, where Mrs. Jewls (the teacher) thanked him for being such a good helper.

5. Dameon runs up and down the stairs a lot, and is in love with Mrs. Jewls. Joy once stole his lunch and lied about it, then gave him hers when her mom dropped it off.

6. Dana owns a dog named Pugsy, who was instrumental in Myron's demotion from Class President. When she comes to class with a ridiculous number of mosquito bites, Mrs. Jewls turns Dana's mosquito bites into numbers so they won't itch anymore.

7. Deedee loves sports so much that she disguises herself as a dead rat (Mrs. Jewls' least favorite thing) so she'll get tossed out of the window at recess, giving her a jump on snagging one of the coveted green balls, which bounce the highest.

8. D.J. has a dog named O.K. D.J. is super-happy all the time. His best friend is Dameon, but he gets along with everyone because he's just so happy. (He says no explanation is required to be happy. Kid's onto something.)

9. Eric Bacon is the skinniest kid in class. Everyone calls him Fatso, because all Erics are fat. He may have been the left-handed Eric who called Miss Zarves the principal, Mr. Kidswatter, a mugworm griblick. He's a pretty great breakdancer, too, but he breaks things when he dances so breakdancing is banned at Wayside. His dog's name is Billy.

10. Eric Fry is the fattest kid in class, and the best athlete (even though he once dropped the ball during a game). Everyone calls him Butterfingers, because all Erics are terrible at sports. He has a goat named Billy.

11. Eric Ovens is the nicest kid in class. Everyone calls him Crabapple, because all Erics are grumpy. His cat's name is Billy.

12. Jason is in love with Allison. He has a big mouth (literally) and chews on pencils all the time. His dentist is a scam artist who extracts healthy teeth for extra money. Jason was once stuck to his chair, thanks to a wad of gum placed there by Joy. Joy kissed his nose and made him fall over, which freed him from his chair.

13. Jenny wears a helmet to class, for which she is always late. Jenny is famous for turning the evil Mrs. Gorf into an apple (by holding up a mirror as Mrs. Gorf tried to turn her into an apple) and for coming to school on a Saturday, where she encounters the men with attache cases.

14. Joe can't count but he always gets the right answer on math problems. One day he wakes up and is able to count perfectly, and then he announces that he has 55,006 hairs on his head. (All curly, as fans will remember.)

15. John sees the blackboard upside-down, which is a problem because Mrs. Jewls only writes right-side-up. Dana is afraid she has a crush on him. After trying to learn to stand on his head, John discovers that he can read right-side-up.... but now everything else is upside-down.

16. Joy is a lunch thief. She doesn't know why she does it, but she felt so guilty after stealing Dameon's lunch that, for a whole year, every item she took from him tastes like Miss Mush's cooking. (So, the worst ever.) She likes Todd's lunches especially, but has also been known to take Maurecia's ice cream. Joy is never punished herself, but manages to get other students in trouble in nearly every chapter.

17. Kathy is a terrible kid who doesn't like anyone but Sammy. The reasons she hates everyone else are really specific, but she also hates the person reading the Wayside books.

18. Leslie has long pigtails, which Paul likes to pull. Leslie's toes are useless to her, so she tries to sell them to Louis (the schoolyard teacher). He won't pay full price, but offers to pass them along to Miss Mush to make little hot dogs from. She declines, because she'd really like to get at least 50 cents for her toes. When Louis offers to buy her pigtails, Leslie is shocked. "Cut my hair! Are you crazy?"

19. Mac was once named Nancy, which was terrible for him because he was a boy. Nancy traded names with a girl named Mac, who later became his girlfriend. He also named his dog Mac.

20. Everyone loves Maurecia (except Kathy), and Maurecia loves ice cream and Todd (but only secretly). After trying every flavor of ice cream, her love for it disappears. But she still (secretly) loves Todd.

21. Myron is the only person ever brave enough to try Miss Mush's Mushroom Surprise. (The surprise was that he liked it.) He does not like dancing the tango in Mrs. Waloosh's class, though, which the other students think is crazy. After Myron was late for school because he rescued Dana's dog on the way, he is demoted from his role as Class President.

22. Paul pulls Leslie's pigtails every single day. First one, then the other. Despite this, Paul and Leslie are best friends.

23. Ron is the worst kickball player in school. No one will play with him, except the time Louis decided to give it a go. They were defeated two days in a row.

24. Rondi's best feature is her front teeth, according to everyone. Her best friend Allison punched them out. When Rondi's front teeth come back in, no one thinks she's cute anymore.

25. Sammy has a bad attitude and wears a bunch of raincoats to class. He's so rude and smells so terrible that only Kathy, the meanest girl in school, actually likes him. It is revealed that Sammy is actually a dead rat, Mrs. Jewls' least favorite thing, and she tosses him out.

26. Sharie has very, very long eyelashes and a non-stop life, so she wears an enormous coat to class, which she sleeps inside of during class. She fell out of the building once, only to have Louis save her at the last possible moment.

27. Stephen is a natural blond who took in a little too much pool time, turning his hair green from the chlorinated water. He always wears a bad outfit, and is the only student to dress up for Halloween (because it fell on a Sunday that year). When Pet Day comes around in the third book, Stephen doesn't have a pet. He names an orange Fido and brings that instead.

28. Terrence is really bad at playing ball, so he kicks it over the fence whenever he has a chance. Secretly, he really wants to play, but his reputation as a bully is better than being the new Ron of kickball, so he keeps it up even though he doesn't actually want to be mean.

29. Poor Todd gets in trouble every day, but it's never his fault. As a result, he goes home on the kindergarten bus at noon, and has no idea what happens in class from 12 to 2. Maurecia is in love with him, but talks badly about him when he isn't around, which is every afternoon.

30. A girl named Sue is featured in a spin-off book, Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School, but never appears in the three novels. She can't understand Mrs. Jewls' method for doing math, and no one in class can understand her "normal" way of doing math. Mrs. Jewls finally suggests Sue try a different school.

My favorite student was Sammy. Do you have a favorite Wayside story? Or better yet, a potato tattoo?

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Marvel Entertainment
10 Facts About Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Nearly every sword-wielding fantasy hero from the 20th century owes a tip of their horned helmet to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Set in the fictional Hyborian Age, after the destruction of Atlantis but before our general recorded history, Conan's stories have depicted him as everything from a cunning thief to a noble king and all types of scoundrel in between. But beneath that blood-soaked sword and shield is a character that struck a nerve with generations of fantasy fans, spawning adaptations in comics, video games, movies, TV shows, and cartoons in the eight decades since he first appeared in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. So thank Crom, because here are 10 facts about Conan the Barbarian.

1. THE FIRST OFFICIAL CONAN STORY WAS A KULL REWRITE.

Conan wasn’t the only barbarian on Robert E. Howard’s resume. In 1929, the writer created Kull the Conqueror, a more “introspective” brand of savage that gained enough interest to eventually find his way onto the big screen in 1997. The two characters share more than just a common creator and a general disdain for shirts, though: the first Conan story to get published, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was actually a rewrite of an earlier rejected Kull tale titled “By This Axe I Rule!” For this new take on the plot, Howard introduced supernatural elements and more action. The end result was more suited to what Weird Tales wanted, and it became the foundation for future Conan tales.

2. BUT A “PROTO-CONAN” STORY PRECEDED IT.

A few months before Conan made his debut in Weird Tales, Howard wrote a story called "People of the Dark" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror about a man named John O’Brien who seemed to relive his past life as a brutish, black-haired warrior named … Conan of the reavers. Reave is a word from Old English meaning to raid or plunder, which is obviously in the same ballpark as barbarian. And in the story, there is also a reference to Crom, the fictional god of the Hyborian age that later became a staple of the Conan mythology. This isn't the barbarian as we know him, and it's certainly not an official Conan tale, but the early ideas were there.

3. ROBERT E. HOWARD NEVER INTENDED TO WRITE THESE STORIES IN ORDER.

Howard was meticulous in his world-building for Conan, which was highlighted by his 8600-word history on the Hyborian Age the character lived in. But the one area the creator had no interest in was linearity. Conan’s first story depicted him already as a king; subsequent stories, though, would shift back and forth, chronicling his early days as both a thief and a youthful adventurer.

There’s good reason for that, as Howard himself once explained: “In writing these yarns I've always felt less as creating them than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me. That's why they skip about so much, without following a regular order. The average adventurer, telling tales of a wild life at random, seldom follows any ordered plan, but narrates episodes widely separated by space and years, as they occur to him.”

4. THERE ARE NUMEROUS CONNECTIONS TO THE H.P. LOVECRAFT MYTHOS.

For fans of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, one of the only names bigger than Robert E. Howard was H.P. Lovecraft. The two weren’t competitors, though—rather, they were close friends and correspondents. They’d often mail each other drafts of their stories, discuss the themes of their work, and generally talk shop. And as Lovecraft’s own mythology was growing, it seems like their work began to bleed together.

In “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard made reference to “vast shadowy outlines of the Nameless Old Ones,” which could be seen as a reference to the ancient, godlike “Old Ones” from the Lovecraft mythos. In the book The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, editor Patrice Louinet even wrote that Howard’s earlier draft for the story name-dropped Lovecraft’s actual Old Ones, most notably Cthulhu.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow of Time,” he describes a character named Crom-Ya as a “Cimmerian chieftain,” which is a reference to Conan's homeland and god. These examples just scratch the surface of names, places, and concepts that the duo’s work share. Whether you want to read it all as a fun homage or an early attempt at a shared universe is up to you.

5. SEVERAL OF HOWARD’S STORIES WERE REWRITTEN AS CONAN STORIES POSTHUMOUSLY.

Howard was only 30 when he died, so there aren’t as many completed Conan stories out in the world as you’d imagine—and there are even less that were finished and officially printed. Despite that, the character’s popularity has only grown since the 1930s, and publishers looked for a way to print more of Howard’s Conan decades after his death. Over the years, writers and editors have gone back into Howard’s manuscripts for unfinished tales to doctor up and rewrite for publication, like "The Snout in the Dark," which was a fragment that was reworked by writers Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. There were also times when Howard’s non-Conan drafts were repurposed as Conan stories by publishers, including all of the stories in 1955's Tales of Conan collection from Gnome Press.

6. FRANK FRAZETTA’S CONAN PAINTINGS REGULARLY SELL FOR SEVEN FIGURES.

Chances are, the image of Conan you have in your head right now owes a lot to artist Frank Frazetta: His version of the famous barbarian—complete with rippling muscles, pulsating veins, and copious amounts of sword swinging—would come to define the character for generations. But the look that people most associate with Conan didn’t come about until the character’s stories were reprinted decades after Robert E. Howard’s death.

“In 1966, Lancer Books published new paperbacks of Robert E. Howard's Conan series and hired my grandfather to do the cover art,” Sara Frazetta, Frazetta's granddaughter owner and operator of Frazetta Girls, tells Mental Floss. You could argue that Frazetta’s powerful covers were what drew most people to Conan during the '60s and '70s, and in recent years the collector’s market seems to validate that opinion. In 2012, the original painting for his Lancer version of Conan the Conqueror sold at auction for $1,000,000. Later, his Conan the Destroyer went for $1.5 million.

Still, despite all of Frazetta’s accomplishments, his granddaughter said there was one thing he always wanted: “His only regret was that he wished Robert E. Howard was alive so he could have seen what he did with his character.”

7. CONAN’S FIRST MARVEL COMIC WAS ALMOST CANCELED AFTER SEVEN ISSUES.

The cover to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #21
Marvel Entertainment

Conan’s origins as a pulp magazine hero made him a natural fit for the medium’s logical evolution: the comic book. And in 1970, the character got his first high-profile comic launch when Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian hit shelves, courtesy of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

Though now it’s hailed as one of the company’s highlights from the ‘70s, the book was nearly canceled after a mere seven issues. The problem is that while the debut issue sold well, each of the next six dropped in sales, leading Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, to pull the book from production after the seventh issue hit stands.

Thomas pled his case, and Lee agreed to give Conan one last shot. But this time instead of the book coming out every month, it would be every two months. The plan worked, and soon sales were again on the rise and the book would stay in publication until 1993, again as a monthly. This success gave way to the Savage Sword of Conan, an oversized black-and-white spinoff magazine from Marvel that was aimed at adult audiences. It, too, was met with immense success, lasting from 1974 to 1995.

8. OLIVER STONE WROTE A FOUR-HOUR, POST-APOCALYPTIC CONAN MOVIE.

John Milius’s 1982 Conan movie is a classic of the sword and sorcery genre, but its original script from Oliver Stone didn’t resemble the final product at all. In fact, it barely resembled anything related to Conan. Stone’s Conan would have been set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the barbarian would do battle against a host of mutant pigs, insects, and hyenas. Not only that, but it would have also been just one part of a 12-film saga that would be modeled on the release schedule of the James Bond series.

The original producers were set to move ahead with Stone’s script with Stone co-directing alongside an up-and-coming special effects expert named Ridley Scott, but they were turned down by all of their prospects. With no co-director and a movie that would likely be too ambitious to ever actually get finished, they sold the rights to producer Dino De Laurentiis, who helped bring in Milius.

9. BARACK OBAMA IS A FAN (AND WAS TURNED INTO A BARBARIAN HIMSELF).

When President Barack Obama sent out a mass email in 2015 to the members of Organizing for Action, he was looking to get people to offer up stories about how they got involved within their community—their origin stories, if you will. In this mass email, the former Commander-in-Chief detailed his own origin, with a shout out to a certain barbarian:

“I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story—the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

This bit of trivia was first made public in 2008 in a Daily Telegraph article on 50 facts about the president. That led to Devil’s Due Publishing immortalizing the POTUS in the 2009 comic series Barack the Barbarian, which had him decked out in his signature loincloth doing battle against everyone from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney.

10. J.R.R. TOLKIEN WAS ALSO A CONAN DEVOTEE.

The father of 20th century fantasy may always be J.R.R. Tolkien, but Howard is a close second in many fans' eyes. Though Tolkien’s work has found its way into more scholarly literary circles, Howard’s can sometimes get categorized as low-brow. Quality recognizes quality, however, and during a conversation with Tolkien, writer L. Sprague de Camp—who himself edited and touched-up numerous Conan stories—said The Lord of the Rings author admitted that he “rather liked” Howard’s Conan stories during a conversation with him. He didn’t expand upon it, nor was de Camp sure which Conan tale he actually read (though it was likely “Shadows in the Moonlight”), but the seal of approval from Tolkien himself goes a long way toward validation.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios