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Authors: Shelley Pearsall

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All of the Above

BOOK: All of the Above
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Copyright © 2006 by Shelley Pearsall

Illustrations copyright © 2006 by Javaka Steptoe

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com

First eBook Edition: January 2008

First published in hardcover in 2006 by Little, Brown and Company

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

The Little, Brown and Company name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-316-05590-1

Contents

MR. COLLINS

JAMES HARRIS III

RHONDELL

MR. COLLINS

SHARICE

MARCEL

MR. COLLINS

JAMES HARRIS III

MR. COLLINS

WILLY Q

MARCEL

SHARICE

JAMES HARRIS III

RHONDELL

SHARICE

MARCEL

JAMES HARRIS III

SHARICE

MARCEL

RHONDELL

MR. COLLINS

JAMES HARRIS III

SHARICE

MR. COLLINS

RHONDELL

SHARICE

AUNT ASIA

RHONDELL

MARCEL

RHONDELL

MR. COLLINS

JAMES HARRIS III

WILLY Q

RHONDELL

SHARICE

RHONDELL

AUNT ASIA

MR. COLLINS

MARCEL

JAMES HARRIS III

SHARICE

AUNT ASIA

MR. COLLINS

JAMES HARRIS III

MARCEL

MR. COLLINS

RHONDELL

SHARICE

MARCEL

MR. COLLINS

SHARICE

RHONDELL

JAMES HARRIS III

MR. COLLINS

AUTHOR'S NOTE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

HOW TO BUILD A TETRAHEDRON

READER'S GUIDE

for the 2002 tetrahedron team members
and their teachers

 

I
f you follow Washington Boulevard past the smoky good smells of Willy Q's Barbecue, past the Style R Us hair salon, where they do nails like nobody's business, past the eye-popping red doors of the Sanctuary Baptist Church, you'll finally come to a dead end.

That's where our school sits. Right at the dead end of Washington Boulevard. We know there's a lot of people out there who think our school is a dead end. And that all the kids inside it are dead ends, too.

They drive past our school, roll up their car windows, and lock their doors. Let's get out of this bad neighborhood, they say. Fast.

But they've got it all wrong. Because inside our crumbling, peeling-paint, broken-window school, we are gonna build something big. Something that will make all of them sit up and take notice, even the people with their big, fancy cars and rolled-up windows. Something that hasn't been built in the history of the world. By anybody.

 

JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE.…

MR. COLLINS

Before this story begins, there are a few facts you should know. This is not for a quiz, but if it was, I would tell you to write the following facts
neatly
in your math notebook:

1. Tetrahedrons are geometric solids with four faces. All four faces are equilateral triangles.

2. Small tetrahedrons can be joined together to make larger ones.

3. The largest tetrahedron ever constructed was approximately seven feet tall, and it was made of 4,096 smaller tetrahedrons.

4. It was built by students at a private school in California. They had plenty of time and money.

5. I teach at a city school in Cleveland, Ohio, where I have been a middle school math teacher for the past twenty years.

6. We don't have much time or money.

7. The idea for the tetrahedron project began with one of my worst classes in twenty years of teaching.

8. It happened on a Friday.

JAMES HARRIS III

I don't listen to nothing in Collins’ math class. Only thing I listen for is the bell. That bell at the end of class is just about the sweetest sound in the world. The whole class, I sit there waiting on that bell and watching the hands of the clock jump from one little black mark to the next. You ever notice how school clocks do that? How they don't move like other clocks do; they jump ahead like bugs?

I even saw one move backward once. I swear the hands went five minutes back right before lunch. I told the teacher that the clock was cheating us out of recess and got a detention just for saying that.

Mr. Collins teaches seventh grade math and I'm telling you, straight up, he's one of the worst teachers you can get at Washington Middle School. My older brother, DJ, had him for math two years ago. He told me Collins would do nothing but talk and write on the board for the whole period, and the hardest part of his class was not falling asleep. And forget his tests; don't even bother to try.

Every Friday, me and Terrell and three of the other guys who can keep their big mouths shut take bets on which tie Collins will have on when he walks in. He's been wearing the same ones for forever. DJ's class did the same thing. Everybody put in a quarter and whoever guessed right on the day they were betting got all the money.

It gonna be pea green, puke orange, red stripe, yellow diamond, or dirt brown, today, huh?

I've won three bucks so far this year, and it's only September.

But then one Friday, Collins did something crazy. Like cracked. I was sitting there in class that afternoon staring at the jumping clock like usual, and Collins’ voice was going on and on about how important geometry was. Yeah, right. His voice was talking to itself, while his hand drew on the board.

This is a cylinder, class. This is a cube.

Nobody was paying attention to a word he was saying.

This is a cold Pepsi can, my mind said. This is a box with a big, juicy Big Mac inside. No mustard. Extra ketchup.

And then Collins suddenly stops his hand in midair, whips around, and stares at us. “Is anybody listening to me?” He waves his arms and yells. You know, it was almost funny. You could see the little veins in his forehead popping out and his neck starting to turn beet red.

All week he'd been giving us this same line. How nobody in our class was listening to him. What's there to listen to? That's what I kept wanting to ask. Only four people turned in their homework on Tuesday and almost everybody failed his quiz on Wednesday, and you shoulda seen him losing it about that—

But this time he completely flips out. He throws his piece of yellow chalk onto the stack of papers sitting on his desk, goes over to the side of the room, and stands there staring out the windows with his arms crossed. While he's doing that, the piece of chalk rolls off the papers, hits the floor, and shatters into a thousand little pieces. That makes everybody crack up. But Collins, he doesn't even turn around to look. He just keeps standing there at the window, not saying a word.

I swear he doesn't move for about a half hour. You shoulda seen the looks the whole class was giving behind Collins’ back while he stood there. Everybody rolling their eyes at each other and pretending to cough and shaking their heads. Like nobody knows what to think.

When Collins finally does turn around, he's got his serious face on. You know the one I'm talking about. Like we are about to get another big long lecture. Maybe because me and Terrell are in the row right next to where he's standing, Collins starts in on us first. I slouch down in my chair, figuring he'll get a clue and move somewhere else. But he doesn't.

“James,” he says, “what would make you care about being here?”

“Where?” I ask, trying to give the least answer I can.

“Right here. Math class, room 307, Washington Middle School, Cleveland, Ohio.” Collins motions toward the windows. “What would make you want to be right here, in room 307, James?”

“Nothing. I hate math,” I say to Collins, and the whole class starts laughing.

“I'm sorry to hear that,” the teacher answers in a strange voice once the class gets quiet again. He moves on to Terrell next. “You, Terrell? What about you?”

Behind me, Terrell's answer is too low to hear. I mean I hear it because that's the way me and Terrell talk all the time in class, but Collins doesn't. He comes walking closer to him. “I didn't hear exactly what you answered,” he warns.

“Maybe some kinda contest,” Terrell mumbles.

I swear under my breath.
You tell him about the ties and you're a dead man, Terrell.
DJ and the others would never let me forget it if Collins found out. I could hear my brother already—“Figures you'd be the fools who'd go and give away the whole thing. Been doing this for years and your class had to be the one that snitched.”

“A contest…” Collins repeats Terrell's words like he always does with whatever you answer. “What kind of contest?”

I can hear Terrell shifting around in his seat behind me. “Just a contest,” he mumbles again, “or something like that.”

For about a minute, the teacher stands there staring into space like he's thinking about Terrell's answer or waiting to hear something more. Then he goes back up to the chalkboard, erases the whole thing, and starts drawing these big crazy lines. The chalk goes
screak, screak, screak,
like fingernails scraping, he draws so hard. He slashes one diagonal chalk line from the top of the board to the bottom, then a straight line top to bottom, then another diagonal one, then a few more at the bottom until there is something that looks like a big pyramid on the board.

“Anybody know what this is?” he says loudly, rapping his knuckles on the board.

Nobody says a word. I think everybody believes Collins has lost his mind.

“T-E-T-R-A-H-E-D-R-O-N” the teacher writes in big crooked letters across the whole board. Then, he whips around and shouts, “WHY AREN'T ANY OF YOU WRITING THIS DOWN?”

I yank Terrell's pencil out of his hand and tell him he had better keep his fat mouth shut for the rest of class. On the inside cover of one of my notebooks, I copy the word from the board. TETRA HEED RON. That's what I put down.

While Collins is writing the definition, I draw a guy standing on a tall, pointy mountain with the words “Help me, help me! I'm Tetra Heed Ron” coming out of the guy's mouth. That cracks me up. I turn around to show it to Terrell and a shadow falls across my desk.

“I'll take that notebook,” Collins says. The little metal spirals make a zipping sound as he pulls it right out of my hand and tosses it onto his desk.
Man,
another detention. I slam my chair back so hard it hits Terrell's desk behind me.

BOOK: All of the Above
5.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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