Thursday, February 15, 2007

Three Ninety Eight Thursdays Take a Break

Hello, everyone. Hope you're keeping warm. We closed at 3 pm on Tuesday and we were closed yesterday, so I didn't have time to write a review of a folktale. I didn't come empty-handed, however.

I am a sucker for novels/memoirs about teaching and schools. The Freedom Writers’ Diary, Teacher Man, Educating Esme…I can’t get enough. Those are the ones written for adults. For kids, you can’t beat Andrew Clements, Richard Peck, Louis Sachar…I can go on.

What makes All of the Above different is that it is one of our YA books, and definitely something I think many teens would enjoy. Mr. Collins is pretty fed up with his math class. They’d rather gossip and goof off rather than pay attention (except for a few). He’s frustrated that they don’t view education as a way to improve their future. Out of exasperation, he asks them to tell him exactly what would make them interested in the class.

A contest, mumbles one of the students.

Well, Mr. Collins happens to know about a contest. It involves building a tetrahedron. This means a lot of work. To his surprise, several students agree to join the after school club.

Through multiple narrators, we learn about the fun, the struggle, and setbacks the students face while building the tetrahedron. We also learn about their personal struggles, their home lives, and their hopes for the future.

This is a heartwarming (and occasionally heartbreaking) novel suited for middle school and above. Some situations are definitely gritty, but not as explicit as the teacher memoirs written for adults, such as Freedom Writers’ Diary. The fact that it is based on a true story (an inner city school in Cleveland) makes it even more appealing.

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