Title: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.
Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Walker and Company
Publication Date: 2009
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Summary: Gianna is working on a leaf-identification project that she has to turn in so she can run for her school team at sectionals. She's worried that if she doesn't get her project turned in Bianca, donning a glittery running suit, will take her place. To make things harder, she's worried about her grandmother who is losing her memory. What I Think: There were so many refreshing things about this book for me! Gianna is such a great character. She is caring and artistic. She wants to do well in school, but it doesn't come easy for her. Luckily, she has a great friend in Zig who helps her along. I was excited to read about her going to a farmer's market with her family and running, biking, and hiking.
Besides a great main character, I really enjoyed the plot. Gianna is busy getting her leaf project done, worrying about her grandmother, and learning how to be a friend. I love realistic fiction that my students would really be able to relate to while learning something at the same time.
Read Together: 5 - 8
Read Alone: 6 - 8
Read With: A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban, Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks, Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Snatch of Text: "That's a lot of trees. I pull out my sketchbook and start doodling some of them. I wish I had my colored pencils.
The clock ticks.
Forty minutes of Bianca kicking my desk and smirking about the fact that Dad drove me to school in the hearse this morning. I argued, but it didn't do any good." p. 2
(I think the beginning of this book would make a good read aloud to get kids hooked. Gianna is very relate-able!)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Making Connections, Making Predictions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Compound Adjectives
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were worried about someone important to you; how did you help them? Write about a time in your life when you had a project you were working on and how you were able to accomplish and how you felt when you succeeded in accomplishing it.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, School, Death, Running, Competition
Translated to Spanish: No