The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

4.6 18
by Kate Messner
     
 

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Gianna Z has less than one week to collect, identify, and creatively display 25 leaves for her science project-or else she won't be able to compete in the upcoming cross-country sectionals race. As the deadline for her leaf project draws near, life keeps getting in the way. Some things are within Gee's control, like her own procrastination, but others aren't, like…  See more details below

Overview

Gianna Z has less than one week to collect, identify, and creatively display 25 leaves for her science project-or else she won't be able to compete in the upcoming cross-country sectionals race. As the deadline for her leaf project draws near, life keeps getting in the way. Some things are within Gee's control, like her own procrastination, but others aren't, like Biana Rinaldi's attempts at sabotage and Nonna's declining health. If it weren't for her best friend Zig, Gee wouldn't have a chance at finishing. His knowledge of trees and leaves in their rural Vermont town comes in very handy- as does his loyalty to Gee. But when Nonna disappears one afternoon, things like leaves and cross-country meets suddenly seem less important.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
For those of us who never really had trouble staying "on task" (I am not talking about simple procrastination), this book is an eye-opening look at what ADD children go through. Gianna is a bright, artistic, kind seventh-grader. She is on the cross-country team, and running seems to be the only thing she really likes doing this school year. In English class, she can do the reading, and she is even beginning to like poetry. In math class, she does the assignments, but what about science? That is a problem—there is a major science project, with guidelines and due dates for every part of it, including the final presentation. There is plenty of time, right? How hard can it be to collect twenty-five different kinds of leaves? Gianna is about to find out. She soon learns that science will not be her only problem this year. Her father is the director of a small funeral home, and when he drives her to school in the hearse, she gets teased unmercifully. One of the girls on the track team, Bianca Rinaldi, claims that if Gianna fails science then Bianca will take her place in the regionals. Gianna is not the only victim of Bianca's vicious tongue. Ruby, whose family has nearly no money, is wearing a pair of "days of the week" underpants—not only is she still wearing pants that everyone else gave up in second grade, but she is wearing the Tuesday pants on Wednesday. To an adult, of course, this means less than nothing, but Ruby goes home to change her pants and does not return to school. Of course, Bianca mocks this, too. Gianna stands up for Ruby, thus sealing her fate: Bianca will think of something really devastating to punish her. Meanwhile, Gianna's grandmother, who lives with thefamily, is having some memory troubles, and does not seem as sharp as she used to be. Her mother denies that anything is wrong at all—everyone's life would be simpler if only Gianna would pay more attention and do better in school. What will it take to get her to face reality? We cannot wait to find out! Gianna is such a sympathetic character that the reader's heart goes out to her. This book is highly recommended. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Seventh-grader Gianna Zales loves art and cross-country running. She is not so crazy about research projects or anything involving time-management skills, and has somehow gotten to within a week of the due date of a huge science assignment with no work to show. But how hard can it be to find and catalog 25 different varieties of leaves—especially in Vermont, where Robert Frost was inspired to write "Birches" and countless other poems about nature. However, family obligations keep interfering. Her father runs the town's funeral home, but even a close proximity to death can't prepare her for her own grandmother's decline. Suddenly, Nonna is forgetting everything. Also, Coach Napper has told Gianna that she must bring her science grade up to participate in sectionals, and beautiful, arrogant Bianca would love to take her place as the team's star runner. Gianna's mother means well, but is struggling with Nonna's failing health. Youngsters will find much to relate to in this likable protagonist's struggle to balance family and academic commitments. While it is no surprise when it all comes together in the end, plot twists keep readers engaged, and Messner's warm and humorous tone will capture even reluctant readers.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A beloved grandmother is failing. A school project looms-and not completing it has dire consequences (in this case, not being able to participate in an important track meet). Spoiled rich girls torment their classmates, including the narrator, while a nerdy friend who's a boy starts to look a little bit like he has boyfriend potential. None of the elements of this middle-school story is really new, but first-time author (and longtime middle-school teacher) Messner succeeds in creating an engaging saga all the same. If there's a flaw, it's that the narrative is so realistic that it's chock-full of incident and details-and occasionally predictable. But jazzing up the plot with a riddle-loving younger brother, making Gianna's family proprietors of a funeral home and sprinkling in a hearty helping of references to art and poetry keep things interesting. An ending that's hopeful without being saccharine is another big plus. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802722539
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
09/14/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
244,709
File size:
951 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Kate Messner is a debut author on Walker's list. She has a picture book and a chapter book series both scheduled for publication in 2010. She teaches junior high in Plattsburgh, New York, where she lives with her husband and two children.
Kate Messner is the author of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. She teaches junior high in New York, where she lives with her husband and two children.

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