I read a great book yesterday…All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall. It’s about a group of urban middle school students who set out to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. The book is fiction, but it’s based on a true story. When I saw that, I thought the “true story” had to be the one I’d come across a few years back…about kids who built the world’s largest yo-yo. But no. In 2002, a group of students in Cleveland built a stage 7 Sierpinkski tetrahedron. It contained 16,384 smaller tetrahedrons. How cool is that?
And in 1990, students at Shakamak High School (is it just me, or is that a cool name for a high school?) in Jasonville, Indiana built the world’s largest yo-yo. It was six feet tall and weighed 820 pounds. I came across the story when I was working on H is for Hoosier. BTW, I never set out to write a book on Indiana…I DID mean to write M is for Minnesota because Minnesota will always be “home” for me, and I did mean to write W is for Wisconsin and the ABCs of Wisconsin because my grandparents lived in Wisconsin and I have many happy memories of summers spent in Wisconsin. I only wrote H is for Hoosier because my Wisconsin publisher asked me to…they had a lot of sales reps in Indiana and thought they could sell it.
I’m so glad they did ask me to write that book because I may never have come across the story of these kids otherwise. (Y is for Yo-Yo in H is for Hoosier…it’s the best page in the whole book!) I was so fascinated by this story that I did way more research than I needed to for a 100-word entry. I interviewed the teacher (several times) and a couple of the students. And I learned a lot of the story behind the story. The teacher even sent me a big box of stuff to look at — newspaper articles, journal entries, videos of their progress, stuff they sent to/received from Guiness, letters they wrote to/received from the Vice President of the United States and other celebrities. I always wanted to do something with this…I wanted to write a novel about a group of kids building the world’s largest yo-yo, but I never thought I could do justice to the real story. Shelley Pearsall certainly did justice to the story that inspired her, though. What a great read! Too bad I already wrote my review column for this month (it had been a LONG time since I’d done a column on nonfiction, so this one’s on non-fiction.) Ah well…I’ll include All of the Above in my next review.
BTW, I DID end up using some of what I learned about building an over-sized yo-yo in a Boxcar Children book. Yes, The Giant Yo-Yo Mystery is mine…that wasn’t quite the way I wanted to write about the world’s largest yo-yo, but at least it was a new idea for the Boxcar Children. After 107+ books, it’s hard to come up with new ideas for that series!