All of the Above is a Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award-nominated novel by Shelley Pearsall ’89. The book, taught nationwide, teaches strength, unity and awareness of the differences between social classes and of how people are treated based on their appearances. It has made ripples in the world, and many students I know have fond memories of this novel changing their perspective on life.
Pearsall, the brilliant mind behind this retelling of the true story about four Cleveland kids, is a woman born and raised in Ohio and an alum from The College of Wooster. You can find some of her other books, including the fun All Shook Up, the award-winning Trouble Don’t Last and the thrilling Jump into the Sky all in the Wilson Bookstore, hiding on the ever-growing and ever-stunning “published alumni” shelf.
Pearsall, in her own words, was the type of creative child who was always getting into trouble in elementary school. She even wrote her own fanfiction of Little House on the Prairie when she was little.
I had the pleasure of meeting Pearsall at the Rodman Public Library a few years back, and she is the most creative, most kind and most fun person you will ever meet. She is bursting with life, excitement and ideas for new books, and it shines in every word she speaks.
Pearsall was often discouraged from and chastised for writing instead of paying attention during her school years, but eventually it paid off when she finished the work she would publish. Pearsall published her first book, Trouble Don’t Last, in 2001, and it won the Scott O’ Dell Award for Historical Fiction just two years later. She also has had many TV offers for the novel, but as far as I know, she’ll never sell the rights to her book.
Since her first publication, she has married a man with the thickest British accent I have ever heard (he’s such a wonderful person), published Jump into the Sky, Shake it Up, All of the Above, The Seventh Most Important Thing and last year released Things Seen from Above. She often spends her days researching and adventuring for new material for her books, or making concoctions to put into her books. A famous one is the Rainbow BBQ Sauce she featured in All of the Above, which she says took a very long time to put together!
Pearsall’s reads are always refreshing, heart wrenching and worth any time put into them. She is a fantastic author, a fantastic human and she is incredibly encouraging. When I
told her about my dreams of writing all those years ago, she told me to “follow my writing dreams.” The signed bookmark still hangs on my wall, and she has inspired me to go further with my own writing than I ever could have dreamed possible. Pearsall writes some serious magic, and you have to check it out.