The Wayside School Collection: 03/01/12
The Wayside School Collection by Louis Sachar is seven CDs (9 hours) of the author performing the three books in the series: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. Sachar's dry sense of humor and perfect sense of timing makes each joke hit its mark, making for a very silly series of shaggy dog stories.
Wayside School is Falling Down introduces the unusual school (a 30 story, one room per story building with a missing 19th story). Then it introduces the characters, starting with the awful Mrs. Gorf and the much nicer Mrs. Jewls (who sometimes thinks her students are monkeys). As the books follow the students of the top floor, the first book has a chapter devoted to each student, except for the three Erics who share a chapter.
The question of the missing 19th floor is addressed a few times in the collection. The first time is in the chapter called "Calvin" in which Calvin has to deliver a non-existent note to a non-existent teacher about the cancelation of a lunch date. As crazy as that sounds, it makes sense if you follow along with the word play and leaps in logic that Sachar makes as he sets up his jokes for a big pay-off.
In fact my favorite stories in the collection are those dealing directly with Miss Zarves who doesn't teach on the 19th floor. Allison has a first hand encounter with her when she's accidentally marked absent in Wayside School is Falling Down. This is the story that my children and I have talked about most since finishing.
We listened to the collection twice on trips to Southern California.