Books by Louis Sachar

Released: March 3, 2020

"Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)"
Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls' 30th-floor classroom haven't changed a bit. Read full book review >
FUZZY MUD by Louis Sachar
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"An exciting story of school life, friends, and bullies that becomes a quick meditation on the promise and dangers of modern science. (Speculative fiction. 8-12)"
When fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh-grader Marshall Walsh cut through the woods to avoid school bully Chad Hilligas, they unwittingly set off a chain of events that threatens global catastrophe. Read full book review >
THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar
Released: May 11, 2010

Who wants to read a novel about playing bridge—a dull, old-fashioned game nobody plays anymore, some old person's idea of fun before there were cell phones, television, iPods and video games? That's what 17-year-old Alton Richards thinks about bridge when he gets a job as cardturner for his diabetic, blind and curmudgeonly (and fabulously rich) Uncle Lester Trapp, a bridge master. In a journey into the culture of bridge and its alien rules and language, Alton comes to see the extraordinary in Trapp and to consider such new ideas as perception, synchronicity, randomness and the subconscious. Alton's first-person voice is the right vehicle for taking readers into this world and delineating how Alton is changed by the newfound relationship with his uncle and sort-of cousin Toni. Readers need not be card sharks to appreciate this unusual story; in fact, they will soon realize they've been dealt more than cards in this narrative of how big ideas and unforgettable characters affect Alton as he learns to take charge of his life and play his own hand. Intelligent readers will love this work—it's in the cards. (Fiction. 12 & up)Read full book review >
SMALL STEPS by Louis Sachar
Released: Jan. 10, 2006

After a hiatus of some seven years, Sachar returns with a companion to Holes (1998) that places one of Stanley's fellow "campers" on center stage. Armpit is living with his parents in Austin, having set for himself five rehabilitative "small steps:" "1. Graduate from high school. 2. Get a job. 3. Save his money. 4. Avoid situations that may become violent. And 5. Lose the name Armpit." When fellow ex-camper X-Ray persuades him to join him in a scheme scalping tickets for a Kaira DeLeon concert, steps 1-4 are severely threatened—step 5 seeming to be permanently out of reach. Armpit is a genuinely sympathetic character, as is the teen singing phenom Kaira; the third-person narrative shifts focus from one to the other as their paths inexorably, and incredibly, draw closer and closer. If Holes invoked Vonnegut in its narrative complexity and deadpan delivery, this offering more closely resembles more straightforward crime fiction. Although readers may find themselves missing the tricky layers of its predecessor, any novel in which the good guys so righteously win should be happily welcomed in its own right. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
MARVIN REDPOST by Louis Sachar
Released: March 1, 1999

Third grader Marvin Redpost returns (Why Pick on Me?, 1993, etc.) in the fifth book in this Stepping Stone series. On the day when his teacher and class have decided to wear clothes with holes, the President of the United States makes a surprise visit to their classroom, along with reporters and TV crews. After he makes a statement about citizenship, he takes questions, and Marvin's question about how to become president causes him to be singled out on the TV news that evening. This lightweight, enjoyable story is endowed with a realistic sense of what children are like, how they talk and act; less realistic are aspects of school, including one teacher's belly-button revealing outfit. A final scene in which Marvin's parents won't listen to him is never satisfyingly resolved, but it's balanced by a very gratifying earlier scene when a teacher stands up for a student encountering a pushy reporter. The story hums along with its own cheerful energy, much like Marvin himself. (Fiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
HOLES by Louis Sachar
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

"Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure."
Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1995

Wayside School (Wayside School Is Falling Down, 1989, etc.) reopens after having been closed for repairs; the children have been going to horrible schools, and can't wait to come back. But when their beloved Mrs. Jewls goes on maternity leave, their first substitute is the son of the evil Mrs. Gorf, bent on revenge. With the help of Miss Mush, they get rid of him, but the next teacher is even worse. Mrs. Drazil so terrifies Louis, the yard teacher (who was her student 15 years ago), that he becomes a strict Professional Playground Supervisor. The students plot magnificently to rid themselves of this latest scourge. Schick's animated b&w drawings provide their own punch at the chapter openings. Sachar proves once again that he is a master of all things childish. As with its predecessors, this book is filled with the hilarity children love; as in Roald Dahl's tales, the humor is often anarchic, and sometimes in questionable taste, which will make the story a hit with early and middle grade readers. Easy vocabulary, short chapters, and wicked pace make the book perfect for reluctant readers, but Sachar's well-written, sophisticated comedy will appeal to everyone. (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
MARVIN REDPOST by Louis Sachar
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

Another problem suffered and solved by Sachar's hapless third-grader. Marvin picks up an undeserved reputation as a nose-picker, only perpetuated by his frantic denials. He loses his friends Nick and Stuart; his schoolwork suffers; and, in an ultimate indignity, his teacher buys the rumor and puts a comment about unsanitary habits on his report card. With the help of his little sister, Marvin finally concocts an effective defense: he surveys his classmates, teacher, and even the principal, asking if they have ever picked their noses, and his subsequent report to the class creates a sensation. Vintage Sachar—ingenious, funny, gross—and with a believable resolution. (Fiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1991

Gary "Goon" Boone tells jokes instead of having conversations; almost everyone—parents, teachers, schoolmates—is tired of him. When a talent show with a $100 prize is announced at school, Gary decides to make his stand-up debut memorable. His parents promise him another $100 if he stops telling jokes for three weeks. For Gary this is a minor struggle; he tries to understand why other boys his age collect baseball cards, and he gains gradual acceptance in their friendly football games. Their practical joke on Gary. does help launch his career as a comedian, but it is his hard work and practice that lead to his overwhelming success at the show. Readers themselves may feel benumbed by the endless litany of bad jokes; even Sachar's talent for creating humorous situations (There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, 1987; Sideways Stories from Wayside School, 1985—which gets a plug in this book) can't Shine through the too-familiar riddles. Still, Gary is a likable, completely good-hearted boy who turns out to be refreshingly frank about his own shortcomings. (Fiction. 9-11) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1989

A wry, uneven story in which a junior-high-schooler has his fling with the "in" crowd but ultimately finds more rewarding friends. David stands by uneasily while Roger and two other popular classmates knock down old Mrs. Bayfield, break her window, and steal her cane. When he himself is plagued by similar mishaps, he wonders whether he has been cursed—especially after learning that Mrs. Bayfield is reputed to be a witch who steals faces. Sachar gives David more than his share of grief: a constant victim of japes and jeers, he hangs around with outcasts Larry and Mo (Maureen); having nerved himself to ask out friendly Tori, he stands in front of her and loses his pants. Then, desperate to retrieve the cane and end the curse, he challenges Roger; battered but unbowed, he gets the cane, marches it back to Mrs. Bayfield, and learns that she's Tori's aunt and also a well-known artist who makes life masks (thus the witch rumor). Like There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom (1987), this features plenty of wildly tunny moments and deftly depicted social interaction; but once again Sachar keeps underestimating readers, halting the action to explain points he wants to make. Meanwhile, the final scenes, including a bibliotherapeutic epilogue set 150 years hence, are contrived and awkwardly handled. Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1989

Thirty rib-tickling tales of Wayside School, where the classrooms are stacked one atop the other, dead rats live in the basement, and there's no 19th floor—usually. It's a long haul from the playground to the 30th floor, past the principal's office (lair of Mr. Kidswatter), past the lunchroom, where Miss Mush makes her Mushroom Surprise, past Miss Zarves' class on the 19th floor that isn't there; but the children don't mind, for Mrs. Jewls—their favorite teacher—is waiting for them. Wayside School is never dull; if Mrs. Jewls isn't demonstrating gravity by dropping the new computer out the window or delivering words of wisdom ("It doesn't matter what you wear on the outside. It's what's underneath that counts. If you want to be great and important, you have to wear expensive underpants"), her students liven things up: among other startling events, Sharie brings in a hobo for show-and-tell; Calvin shows off his birthday tattoo; and the ghost of dreaded former teacher Mrs. Gorf animates Miss Mush's potato salad. Each short episode is prefaced with a simple, evocative line drawing. Sachar has a gift for having fun without poking it too sharply, and beneath all the frivolity there very often lurks some idea or observation worth pondering. A sure-to-please sequel to Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Read full book review >
Released: March 15, 1987

The fall and rise of Bradley Chalkers, class bully, are chronicled in this humorous, immensely appealing story. Bradley, 11, known alternatively as Chicken Chalkers and a "monster," is hated and feared by his fifth-grade classmates and teacher, teased unmercifully by his older sister, and treated warily by his well-meaning but ineffectual parents. He derives a modicum of comfort from playing with his only friends—a motley collection of little glass and brass animals. When Jeff, a new kid, arrives in class and offers friendship, a confused Bradley first demands a dollar or he'll spit on the newcomer; he later exchanges the dollar for Jeff's friendship. It's a shaky alliance at best, considering the state of Bradley's psyche and the fact that, as Jeff grows more comfortable, he begins to prefer his more well-adjusted classmates. Then, into Bradley's life comes Carla Davis, newly-hired school counselor. This lovely, caring young woman is a model of therapeutic wisdom, and it is their slow-to-grow, but eventually solid, relationship that helps Bradley to see himself as a worthy and capable individual, deserving of friendship, gold stars, and an invitation to a girl's birthday party. His transformation is beautiful to see, though, of course, there are mishaps, failures, and disappointments, as well as triumphs, some of which are quite moving, others highly comical. Even the happiest of children feel like misfits from time to time; most have also encountered bullies like Bradley. As the story moves along, readers will begin to sympathize with Bradley; they'll root for him, hoping he'll exchange his misfit status for reasonable contentment. Happily, readers are also likely to come away from the story with the sense that they've been rooting for themselves, too. Read full book review >