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If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
     

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

4.2 46
by Gennifer Choldenko
 

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Kirsten's parents are barely speaking to each other, and her best friend has fallen under the spell of the school's queen bee, Brianna. It seems like only Kirsten's younger science-geek sister is on her side. Walker's goal is to survive at the new white private school his mom has sent him to because she thinks he's going to screw up like his cousin. But he's

Overview

Kirsten's parents are barely speaking to each other, and her best friend has fallen under the spell of the school's queen bee, Brianna. It seems like only Kirsten's younger science-geek sister is on her side. Walker's goal is to survive at the new white private school his mom has sent him to because she thinks he's going to screw up like his cousin. But he's a good kid. So is his friend Matteo, though no one knows why he’ll do absolutely anything that hot blond Brianna asks of him. But all of this feels almost trivial when Kirsten and Walker discover a secret that shakes them both to the core.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
Choldenko…has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids' foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range…While it treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
“The issues raised are spot-on for this age group. . . . (an) under-the-microscope examination of the often cruel, always dramatic dynamics of junior high.”
School Library Journal
“Choldenko convincingly covers the middle school scene . . . sparkling characterization and touches of humor . . . tumultuous twists that ultimately convince Kirsten that, indeed, she does matter.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Choldenko's talent for characters and conversation brings the two voices instantly to life in alternating points of view...This will appeal to a wide range of middle-school readers and would make a great book-club or classroom discussion."
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Kirsten cannot wait to start seventh grade. After a lousy summer during which one of her best friends moved and her parents did nothing but fight, school will be welcomed. But the new year does not go as planned when Kirsten's remaining friend turns on her to be accepted by the popular crowd, her mother hounds her about her emotional eating and weight gain, and a new student holds the key to a shocking family secret. Choldenko alternates chapters between Kirsten's first-person narration and the third-person perspective of Walk, an African American student new to Kirsten's private school and connected somehow to the reason why Kirsten's parents are fighting. Although Kirsten's voice is achingly authentic-self-deprecating and conflicted yet hopeful-the chapters from Walk's point of view seem awkward and interrupt the flow of the novel. Although Kirsten, Walk, and their classmates are barely thirteen, they seem much older. Late in the novel, Walk takes his mother's brand-new sports car for a spin without consequence, and the revelation that Kirsten's father is also Walk's father is a mature theme with which such young characters must deal. The novel touches on racism, eating disorders, and bullying, and one cannot help but feel that it would have been more memorable and compelling had Choldenko aged her characters a few years and let Kirsten tell the story in its entirety.
From the Publisher
"The issues raised are spot-on for this age group. . . . (an) under-the-microscope examination of the often cruel, always dramatic dynamics of junior high."—Publishers Weekly
"Choldenko . . . has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids’ foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range . . . While [this book] treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year."—The Washington Post Book World

The Washington Post Book World
"Choldenko has a flair for titles: Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, Al Capone Does My Shirts, now this. But books don't fly on titles alone. Choldenko also has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids' foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range. . . . If a Tree Falls unfolds in the less exotic setting of a fancy private school, but it treads more explosive ground as it switches between the viewpoints of two seventh-graders there—Kirsten, who is white, and Walk, who is black. That catchy title is a metaphor for the uprooting that takes place when Kirsten and Walk learn they have a whole lot more in common than their "brilliance." At the same time, it signals this book's real appeal for pre-teens: While it treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year. "

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781613837603
Publisher:
Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period


By Choldenko, Gennifer

Harcourt Children's Books

Copyright © 2007 Choldenko, Gennifer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780152057534

one
 
Kirsten
 
This is lame but I’m actually looking forward to school this year, because every day this summer was like crap: dog crap, cat crap—I even had a few elephant crap days. Trust me, it was bad.
 
           For starters I hardly saw my best friend in the whole world, Rory. She was always in camp or on Maui.
 
           They probably don’t even have crap on Maui.
 
           Besides Rory being gone all summer, my only other friend in the whole world, Nellie, moved away and my mom and dad fought all the time. They stopped seeing my little sister, Kippy, and me, and they definitely stopped hearing what we said. We even tried a little experiment on them. Kippy said there was a colony of worms living in the laundry hamper and my mom said: “Leave your muddy shoes outside.” And I said Brad Pitt had invited me to a slumber party and my mom said: “You already had your snack.”
 
           It was funny for a while. Then it wasn’t.
 
           But summer is over. School is back. And all I can think about as mymom drives us up to the drop-off is how I really, really, really want to have a bunch of classes with Rory this year. Well, that’s almost all I think of. I also consider my butt and how it will make its way out of our car. Nobody wants to see a gigantor butt coming out of a car first thing on a Monday morning, that much I know.
 
           “Have a good day. Eat the lunch I packed. Don’t buy junk . . . ,” my mom says when my feet hit the pavement.
            “Kirsten!” She unrolls the side window and beckons with her hand. “Do you know that boy, that bla—African American kid?” Her head cranes toward a guy who just gotout of a red sports car. Tall, nice-looking guy. Shaved head, handsome . . . dresses like he’s the governor’s son.
 
           I shrug. “Must be new.”
 
           The red car pulls out of the drop-off and my mom’s head snaps to the front. She pounces on the accelerator and her car flies forward with the door open and the seat belt clanking the side. She swerves around a big SUV, guns it, then pounces on the brakes, coming to a squealing, screeching halt.
 
           The stop sign.
 
           Her hand rotates a million miles an hour, gesturing to this poor huddled pedestrian, but the pedestrian won’t move. He’s afraid. I can’t blame the guy. . . . I’d be afraid, too.
 
           When my mom sees the man is sticking, she shoots forward again like she’s on the chase. She’s hunting down the red car, going to drive right over it and staple it to the ground.
 
           Oh, great: now she’s getting weird in public, too.
 
           When I turn to leave, the black kid is standing next to me. “That your mom?”
 
           I nod, then giggle. God, I hate my giggle. You have to be size three and named Barbie for my giggle. Between my giggle and the extra forty pounds, I’ve got to be the coolest girl in the whole seventh grade.
 
           “She hits my mom’s car, gonna be trouble.” He shakes his head. “You don’t wanna mess with my mom and that car.”
 
           “I’m sorry.” My face flames so hot I could fry eggs on my cheeks.
 
           “That’s a 350Z. We just got it. My mom’s been shining it with her toothbrush. You should see her.”
 
           “It’s nice.” I bite my lip. “Very red.”
 
           “My mom drives it real careful. She has two speeds. One mile an hour”—he pauses—“and stopped.”
 
           I laugh—my real laugh this time.
 
           “I thought the police were gonna pull us over for going so slow. Like, hey lady, get outta neutral.” He shakes his head.
 
           The warning bell rings. “We gotta move!” he says.
 
           “You go. I’ll never make it!”
 
           “Come on, whatever your name is, run,” he shouts over his shoulder.
 
           “My name is Kirsten,” I call after him as he thunders ahead taking the stairs two at a time.
 
           I try running, even though running makes my fat jiggle. Still, I want to keep up. This guy is nice to me even though my mother nearly creamed a guy in the crosswalk and chased down his mom’s car. My mother . . . I swear. What was that about, anyway?
Copyright © 2007 by Gennifer Choldenko
 
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
 
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Continues...

Excerpted from If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Choldenko, Gennifer Copyright © 2007 by Choldenko, Gennifer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"The issues raised are spot-on for this age group. . . . (an) under-the-microscope examination of the often cruel, always dramatic dynamics of junior high."—Publishers Weekly"Choldenko . . . has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids’ foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range . . . While [this book] treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year."—The Washington Post Book World

    

Meet the Author

GENNIFER CHOLDENKO is the author of Al Capone Does My Shirts and Notes from a Liar and Her Dog as well as several picture books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

www.choldenko.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Kirsten McKenna's got a lot on her mind, and on her body for that matter. She gained 30 pounds over the summer, thanks to her dysfunctional parents and their constant arguing. Maybe that's why her best friend, Rory, has stopped hanging out with her. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rory is now hanging with the popular crowd. Either way, Kirsten is relieved to find a new group of friends, including Walker "Walk" Jones.

Walk is new at this school and it's a whole different world from the City school he came from. Everyone knows he's here on scholarship, and some kids just won't let him forget it. Good thing he has one friend, Matteo, to count on. Oh, and there's that girl, Kirsten, too. She's pretty cool.

This was a quick read, but not because the content was simple. The plot kept the pages turning. The short chapters alternated between Kirsten's and Walk's perspectives, which was perfect for the pace of the book. It was portrayed as a simple middle school read, nothing out of the ordinary, but it delivered so much more. This book was very like something one might find from Judy Blume, in both voice and subject matter. Smart, insightful characters dealing with adult-world challenges while living with everyday life at school -- the good, the bad, and the downright nasty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first sentence is This is lame but Im actually looking foward to school this year, because every day this summer was like crap: dog crap, cat crap,I even had a few elephant crap days- trust me it was bad. It was only 150 pages, but i laughed all the way through it especially at her little sister Kippy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book read it!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up this book, I was excited because I thought it was going to be very interesting after reading the cover information. The book is rated for ages 10+ and is written at a level appropriate for 4th/5th graders. However, I felt the sensitive issues it covered was more middle school oriented. The discussion of body image, racial stereotyping and divorce are common issues that all kids deal with and should be discussed with them, but I feel that the content of the book and the reading level of it did not mesh well. It is one I would not feel comfortable reading in my fourth grade classroom, but feel that for a sixth or seventh grade teacher, it would be a very good stepping stone to start a discussion of these issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a grear book. I'm in 6th grade (12) and i loved it. The only problem was that it was an easy book to read. But oth er than that it ia a reall amazing book-i think you should read it. (P.S. don't read the VOYA review. Spoiler alert!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You pepole have no taste! This book is one of the best books ive ever read. Trust me tp tell you ive read lots of books. To pepole who dont know weather to read it or not. You totallly should its super good. Its mixed with humor, a tiny bit of seruios and a supris twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got locked out of all the books ive ever posted in... help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok so for those of you who are bad mouthing this freggin book saying thats its blah or whatever, YOU SICKEN ME! Wait till your spoiled self gets into middle school and you see all if this stupid drama that happens. For those of you who are african american, just know that as good, is not god enough. Teachers WILL label you as one of the dumb minority kids and they will not treat you like anybody els unless you excel. I feel bad for Walker. I hate being in situations like his. But it happens. Anyways, I thought that the book was very suspenseful and very realistic. This sort of stuff happens every day! STAY TRUE MY PEOPLE! LOL
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree why write a 5 paragraph review when the reviews is a way for kidsto communicate it is really bad someone tell B&N
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story, If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko did not really interest me. This book is about two seventh graders, Kirsten and Walker, and the separate issues they have in school. Kirsten gained a lot of weight over the summer because she was stressed about her parents always arguing and was losing a friend to the popular, mean girl group. Walker was dealing pressure to do well in school and feelings surrounding him being a minority in school. Even though I have never been in her situation, I really felt bad for Kirsten because her parents weren’t talking. I think that kids who have parents that are divorced can identify with this. I feel like Walker is just like a regular kid in my school who feels the pressure to do well just like the rest of us. I feel bad that he doesn’t feel like he fits in at school because needs a group of good friends. I can’t really relate to Walker’s situation because he is black and it is hard to imagine how he was feeling. I believe the message in this book is whether you are a girl or a boy, black or white, it doesn’t matter because anyone could have problems socially in school, for example not fitting in or not finding friends. I think this book would appeal to seventh graders going through this kind of drama. I didn’t like this book because the stories of the two main characters were not intriguing enough to keep my interest. I was not “pulled into” this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read in two hhours. Wish i spent this money elsewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its okay but not my favorite. The one problem is that I'm kind of sick of the overused plot. Girl's parents are splitting up so she gains weight from stress. Her best friend leaves her for the clique. I have read a lot of books like it. However it has some new and exciting twists. In reply to " whats with all the super long receiws...." just so ya know, some people read them and find them helpful, me included! Happy June to all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mommy my nook has gone off for like a year. Please remember me. If you dont its okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is fang here!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We moved camp to grassy plains i am the leader stonestar plz tell me ur nMe there
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bookgirl888 More than 1 year ago
Not the best! Before I read the book, I had seen it many places. My teacher loved it, my friends loved it, so I figured it would be good. So I borrowed it from the classroom. The first 20 pages were not too good, so I gave it another chance. I read about 20 pages more and still did not like it, so I gave it a 10 page more chance. I still could not get into it! It may be a good book, but not my kind of book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
excellent!
Leslie Stephens More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. As a teacher, I like to do book clubs. This is our lastest book for book club. Both the kids and me love it! I highly suggest reading it. No matter your age, I assure you, you'll love it.