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All of the Above Hardcover – September 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (September 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031611524X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316115247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,359,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shelley Pearsall grew up in the blue-collar Cleveland suburb of Parma where she began writing stories in her bedroom closet as a child. She sent her first story to a New York publishing house at the age of thirteen. Although the manuscript was never published, its themes of survival and freedom ultimately became the inspiration for Pearsall's first published novel, TROUBLE DON'T LAST, written twenty years later.

In 2003, TROUBLE DON'T LAST received the prestigious Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction among other honors. Pearsall's first contemporary novel ALL OF THE ABOVE was a 2007 ALA Notable book. Her books have received starred reviews and have been named Booklist Editor's Choice, New York Public Library Top 100, VOYA Top Shelf, Junior Library Guild, and have been nominated for numerous state reading award lists. In 2005, Pearsall was the Children's Writer-in-Residence for the James Thurber House.
Before becoming a full-time author, Shelley Pearsall was an intermediate and middle school teacher. She has also tried many unusual jobs over the years, including a Revolutionary War shipwreck archaeology project, working in an 18th century shoemaker shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and performing Great Lakes stories on an ore boat. Although she no longer works as a classroom teacher, she is a frequent guest author in elementary and middle schools where she does presentations and leads writing workshops on everything from Elvis to shoes.
Shelley Pearsall lives in Silver Lake, Ohio with her husband Mike, stepson Ethan, and a senior-citizen cat named Marbles.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on August 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover

"As we get closer to finishing, I start having dreams about what's gonna happen when we do. In most of my dreams, there is this big flash of light when we finish the tetrahedron and our school isn't a crumbling, peeling-paint building anymore. It's rainbow colored. (I know this sounds kinda weird.) And our giant pyramid sits on top of the school roof shooting out colors all over the neighborhood, like spotlights. Houses turn shades of red, and orange, and blue. And people stop their cars and roll down their windows to take pictures of the sight."

That their one-of-a-kind tetrahedron building project gets off the ground at all is astounding in itself. ALL OF THE ABOVE is a tale of four inner city public school kids -- none of whom are initially friends -- and their math teacher. The teacher, Mr. Collins, acknowledges that he was frustrated with his teaching, his school, his students, and himself when he impulsively announced his brainstorm: a plan to have students come together in an extracurricular math club for the purpose of building a stage seven Sierpinski tetrahedron.

"What the heck is a stage seven Sierpinski tetrahedron?" you might (or might not) be tempted to ask. Well, as I learned, thanks to Rhondell, the member of the student quartet with private dreams of one day attending college, it is a structure composed of 16,384 little tetrahedrons which, in turn, are three dimensional geometric shapes that have four faces, each of which is an equilateral triangle.

And to understand what about this particular book caught my eye -- a book that was formerly to be found amidst my stage seven mountain of review copies -- is to get a sense of my life-long affinity with numbers and mathematical concepts.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You know what author Shelley Pearsall's got? Flexibility, baby. Loads of it. Let's say, for example, that you write a rip-roaringly good bit of harrowing historical fiction (as she did with "Crooked River"). Now you'd like to follow that up with another book for kids. Do you follow the straight and narrow path of always writing with an eye on the past? Or do you get inspired by a group of students at the Alexander Hamilton School in Cleveland, Ohio? Pearsall opted for the latter, and the result is the surprisingly good, All of the Above. Now I avoided this book like crazy for a while. Why? The crummy cover. But open that same cover up and you find a story that never loses hope but that also never treads into the world of mindless optimism. There's a gritty reality hiding at the core of this book. The surprise is that it's a pleasure to discover it for yourself.

Seventh grade math teacher Mr. Collins is the first person to explain to you how, "the tetrahedron project began with one of my worst classes in twenty years of teaching". In that class you have some pretty odd kids. There's James Harris III who basically comes across as future jail fodder more than anything else. There's also Sharice who does well in school but has trouble at home. Rhondell works hard but she's so timid and stuck in her own little shell that it's hard to get her to do anything besides cower. And then of course there's local celebrity Marcel, who's father owns the best known barbecue joint around. What do these kids all have in common? Well, they're in the math club. Not just any math club, though. Mr. Collins has this crazy plan. You see, a California school once built a "Stage 6" tetrahedron and got into the Guinness Book of World Records. Collins thinks this group can do better.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Lindberg on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Even if you don't go to an urban school (or didn't as a kid), you can connect to this story that starts with a lame math class and a pretty lame math teacher. The math teacher gets desperate and comes up with this idea about breaking a world record for making four-sided triangle thingies (tetrahedrons). Needless to say, his students don't leap all over that idea, but somehow James, Rhondell, Marcel, and Sharice end up doing it. Pretty soon you will be all caught up in the lives of these four characters and the people around them. Because each character "talks" in first person, you see different points of view on what's going on with the project--can they do it? Is it a dumb idea? What's the point? Is it really helping anyone learn math (or anything else)? What happens if they do it? I never got the four characters mixed up (like you do in some books) and the author made them seem so real that you just want to hug Sharice and get Marcel to talk and... If you are a clever reader, you'll see that the story itself is kind of a tetrahedron--four characters, four sides... Anyway, it's a great book--check it out!! P.S. Another cool part of the book is how it includes the drawings that James doodles...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Hess on August 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I undertsnad the underlying meaning of this book. It's not really about the paper tetradon, its about the kids finding themselves and saving themselves from an awful world of alchohol and drugs - by doing something good and inspiring to other people. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book at ALL. There was too much in the beginning and end of the book that was explaining hw to make the tetradon and blah blah blah. And the 5+ characters narrating the story was too confusing to understand in the beginning of the book while you are trying to figure out who is who. I would not recommend this book!
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