I was excited to see a new book by Gennifer Choldenko--If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. Her book, Al Capone Does My Shirts caused amazing conversation in my 5th grade class a few years ago. Her topic in that book had depth and was quite surprising. The same is true for this new book.
IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD is told in two voices--kind of. There are alternating chapters. Every other chapter is told by Kirsten--a 7th grader who is not fitting in with friends the way she used to. Her parents are having some marital problems and she is having a hard time. The alternating chapters focus on Walk. Walk is new to this mostly white school and is very well liked by classmates. As an African-American, he is dealing with fitting in in different ways.
Kirsten and Walk develop a great friendship.
But that is just the beginning. Gennifer Choldenko throws the reader with a huge surprise midbook. At first, I thought it was unrealistic, but now that I've finished the book, it makes more sense to me.
This book had depth. The title alone and the tree metaphor throughout is well done. I would say this book is for early middle school readers--maybe 5th grade mature kids. It is full of some big life issues as her other book is.
I read for character, not plot. I liked this book because I believed in the characters. They were real and very likable. I wanted them to be okay. I think they are characters who will stay with me.
Here is a link to a great interview with the author about the book.