A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Students learn about overcoming obstacles and first impressions to work together for a common goal. A student is routinely neglected by her foster parent: Because she doesn't trust the child, the parent refuses to leave her home alone, forcing her to roam the streets while the foster parent goes on late-night dates.
Violence & Scariness
A few instances of bullying behavior.
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Some name calling, bordering on teasing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a great book for reluctant readers. While there are some instances of bullying and child neglect, the overall message is a positive one.
Is It Any Good?
This quick read will appeal to all kinds of students, whether they love, hate, or are indifferent about math. It will even appeal to budding chefs because barbeque recipes from a restaurant owned by Marcel's father are peppered throughout the book. Come for the math, stay for the BBQ? A strange combination, but somehow this story sticks together just fine, and sticks to your ribs.
This novel based on a true story starts off like many that focus on urban school systems: the students don't care, the teachers are uninspired, and the community is apathetic. Pearsall is a veteran author and she makes ALL OF THE ABOVE transcend the typical "teacher-inspired miracle story." Indeed, the math teacher at the center of the project, Mr. Collins, is a peripheral character. The four students who truly commit to the project -- Rhondell, Sharice, Marcel, and James -- drive the story with short, first-person chapters. The narratives show readers what motivates the four to participate in the project. We learn about their families, their dreams, and how the students are connected to each other.
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