Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner

I heard of Teacher's Write! (the oh-so-fabulous summer writing camp I'm participating in) through an email on a librarian's listserve I belong to, so I went to author Kate Messner's site for more details.  I knew I had recently put her books in my library, but I hadn't actually read them yet. 

I know, I know...it's hard to believe, but there you have it.

I resolved that issue last night.  I made a late-evening trip to my library and picked up The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.   It was a lovely short break from my all-day-at-home-with-both-kids-whining life yesterday---I was the only one in the school, the only one in my library=utter serenity!

So I brought this little jewel home and thought I'd just start it so I could count it in my #summerthrowdown #teamlibrarian reading (check out twitter for more info)---not really intending to finish it.  After all, it was rather late when I got started (about 9ish) and it had been a really long day.
But, my!  I really, really (can I add another really?-yep, I think I will) REALLY loved this book.

Gianna is a 7th grader--an awesome runner and an artist.  Gianna and her family (including her beloved Nonna, and her joke-loving little brother) live above the funeral home where her dad works.  Her best friend Zig has been around pretty much forever--he's a brainiac and an all-around good guy. 

Gianna has an assignment---to collect, identify, label, etc. 25 different types of leaves--for her science class.  She's procrastinated a bit (okay, maybe a lot) getting it down---but in all fairness, she's had a lot going on.  I mean, to stay ahead of that Bianca in track takes practice (not to mention she loves running), and an artist must create art, right?  Plus, she's beginning to worry about her Nonna.  She doesn't seem quite herself these days--forgetting and misplacing things.  Who could concentrate on a stupid leaf project with all that going on, I ask you? 

Time is running out, though, and she must finish this project or lose her spot at the upcoming meet (to that Bianca--ugh!) and that just CANNOT happen.  Zig--great friend that he is-- offers to help her finish the project. 

The utter realness of the characters is striking.  Messner really gets this right!  The newly developing bits of tension between Gianna and Zig--- that we're-friends,-we've-always-been-friends-but-hmmm...I'm-starting-to-see-you-in-a-whole-new-light-and-I-don't-quite-know-what-to-do-with-these-feelings deal is greatness.  Sweet, not saccharine.   And I so feel the pain in the family over Nonna's failing health. 

With all that being said, my favorite part is the ending which, if you've ever read one of my book reviews you know I'll never give that spoiler!  But I really, really love that Gianna is true to herself. 

I highly recommend this read!  It was comforting and lovely and brilliant and real. Just like Gianna herself.

Read on, Gentle Readers; Read on!

Mrs. S

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