All of the Above

My second read for the Book A Day Challenge, which, yes, took me more than a day to read, is All of the Above by Shelly Pearsall. I picked up the book because of its Math theme. Though fiction, the book is based on the quest of a Cleveland middle school to break the world record for constructing a tetrahedron. A misfit group of middle schoolers, led by what on the surface (and that’s all we get in the book, is the surface) seems like an uninspiring Math teacher, decides to start an after school club to break the record.

The team succeeds, though that there was a book written about it makes it pretty much a forgone conclusion that they would, but they do face some obstacles along the way. Each chapter is told by a different character, including parents and other grown-ups drawn into the project. That’s the part I like most – different perspectives were given without repeating the same scenes from different views. Every character is flawed, another plus, without being pitiful or caricatured.

The book is level U which makes it a reasonable independent read for half of my class at the end of fourth grade. The urban setting, the struggles of living in various levels of poverty, and the picture of school as a sometimes boring place that kids long to escape all make the book relevant to my students. The short chapters will appeal to some, and the sketches by one of the characters will attract others. This is a good example of realistic fiction for classes that don’t want to add yet another Holocaust book to their selections.

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