From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Exhausted by his efforts to teach math to apathetic middle schoolers, Mr. Collins proposes that his class attempt to build the worlds largest tetrahedron structure. The resulting endeavor, described in alternating chapters by Mr. Collins and four of the students, builds more than geometry as readers come to see them as individuals and as a developing unit. They include artistic tough guy James Harris III, who insists that the individual tetrahedrons color coordinate; Marcel the Magnificent, who works vigorously at his fathers barbecue grill; veteran foster child Sharice; and quietly ambitious Rhondell. Marcels dads recipes are sprinkled throughout. This novel is based on the true story of a Cleveland middle school tetrahedron built in 2002. Pearsall has a knack for creating strong narratives and characters that eschew predictability. While this solid, multivoiced offering is a hopeful one, the action is realistically gritty and true to its inner-city setting. The book may take a little hand-selling, but, like E. L. Konigsburgs The View from Saturday
(S & S, 1996), it is a feel-good read.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
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Everyone knows that Washington Middle School is a dead end and its students have no future. Then, Mr. Collins, the seventh-grade math teacher, inadvertently challenges several students to build a tetrahedron (a 3-D multiplane structure) to break the Guinness world record. The students feign disinterest, but gradually the idea takes hold, ultimately drawing in troublemakers and well-behaved kids, parents, relatives, and community members alike. Told in alternating chapters by Mr. Collins and four of his students, Pearsall's novel, based on a real event in 2002--is a delightful story about the power of a vision and the importance of a goal. The authentic voices of the students and the well-intentioned, supportive adults surrounding them illustrate all that is good about schools, family, friendship, and community. Frances BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved