All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall: A Read Chronicling the Building of the World’s Biggest Tetrahedron

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. Weaving together the different personal stories of the kids, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them, award-winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about the math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is a surprising gem.

Whenever I hear the word dodecahedron or tetrahedron, I just kind of smile inside–and that’s because of a play my friends and I put on with our school. It was a King Arthur play and it was a lot of fun. Here’s a snippet from Act 3 – The Round Table. (Merlin is a hippie in our rendition. Also, to get you up to speed on the situation, the knights have just started fighting over who gets to sit next to him at the table.)

All knights break into a brawl. 

Merlin (appears out of nowhere) : STOP! Peace out, dudes. I have a solution.

Knight 1: You make me always sit next to Arthur, right?

Knight 2: No, I have an even better idea! I get to sit next to Arthur. I’m more important than you. 

Merlin: No dudes, I have to stop all this squabbling. I have the perfect plan! Dramatic pause. A triangle table!

Stagehand (from off to the side) : No, a round table!

Merlin: A rectangle table!

Stagehand: Merlin, ROUND!

Merlin: An octagonal table!?

Stagehand: ROUND. TABLE!

Merlin: A dodecahedron shaped table!

Stagehand: A ROUND TABLE!!!

Merlin: A mound table? Pauses to look back at Stagehand, who is signalling madly. AROUND table?

Stagehand: Runs onstage, flailing wildly and throwing up papers – A. ROUND. TABLE!! LOOK backstage, we have it all set up in the wings. It’s ROUND. That way all 150 knights can sit so no man can complain that he is set at the lowest end, or that another it set above him. GOT IT?

Merlin: OHHH. I get it! A round table. Then these guys can be… The Knights of the Round Table.

Then we did our version of the Knights of the Round Table Monty Python song and the scene was ended… We considered writing it in screenplay form but ended up not doing it.

The movie and the scene are below.

Anyway, this was an awesome story that I genuinely enjoyed. It was a quick, heartwarming read, and I felt that it may have been a little bit rushed, but it was still great. This book is not just about the building of the tetrahedron, but also about these kids learning, moving past their difficulties and learning to lean on each other. This book vaguely, vaguely reminds me of the Breakfast Club. One of the only reasons this book wasn’t 4.5 stars is because, at the very end, I felt something was missing. Especially with James. Otherwise, it was an amazing story that I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with.

Movie link:

Scene with the song from Monty Python;

pg count for the hardback: 256


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