All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall

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Our Score

 

All of the Above is a contemporary, based on a true story, middle-grade novel dealing with inner city kids and their hardships.

Synopsis

Based on a true story, All of the Above is the delightful and suspenseful story of four inner city students and their quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron.

Literary Awards:

  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2008)
  • James Cook Book Award Nominee (2007)
  • Missouri Truman Readers Award Nominee (2009)

Pros:

  • Readers will learn a little about tetrahedrons and a lot about hardships some children experience in middle school (neglect, single parents, foster care, employment, vandalism, bullying).
  • The book is interspersed with recipes and multiple points of view (POV) from adults to the kids themselves.
  • Ultimately, the book is about perseverance, community, and learning empathy.

Cons:

  • My seventh grader didn’t much care for the story. She felt it was predictable and she couldn’t really relate to the characters. In her words, it was “boring but ok.”
  • Deeper character development would have made the story more compelling and less flat.

Final Word

My daughter’s school library bought 100 copies of this book and wrapped them and hid them around the school. Once a student finds a copy, they are to read it and pass it to another student. Once they’ve read the book, they get various prizes. What an amazing strategy to get kids to read! I just wished they had chosen a more compelling book.

“Boring but OK.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Since discussion questions are included in the back of the book, encourage the students to put themselves in the place of the different characters of the book. What would they do if they were in James Harris III, Rondell, Sharice, or Marcel’s position? Do they know kids like this?
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Lisa Godfrees
Lisa Godfrees is fascinated with creatures that don't exist, especially jackalopes. Cactus cats are a close second. When not searching for elusive mythological beasts, she types middle-grade and YA fantasy. Looking for your next read? Check out her website for recommendations on great science fiction and fantasy books from a Christian worldview. Visit her at www.LisaGodfrees.com.

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