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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD
" 'Wait. You aren't really friends with Matteo, are you? Do you know his mom is like a maid?' "

So asks Kirsten McKenna's former best friend, Rory.

Kirsten, daughter of a wealthy Marin County, CA physician begins seventh grade after having had a lousy summer:

"Every day this summer was like crap: dog crap, cat crap -- I even had a few...
Published on August 17, 2007 by Richie Partington

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Not-So Exciting Secret
The Novella If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko is about a young girl named Kirsten who is going in to her middle school years. On her first day back from her boring summer she meets Walk. Kirsten finds herself talking to him a lot due to the fact he wasn't rude to her like most kids.
Throughout this story Kirsten loses her bestfriend,Rory, and...
Published on March 22, 2012 by Whirley's Literature


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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD, August 17, 2007
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This review is from: If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Hardcover)
" 'Wait. You aren't really friends with Matteo, are you? Do you know his mom is like a maid?' "

So asks Kirsten McKenna's former best friend, Rory.

Kirsten, daughter of a wealthy Marin County, CA physician begins seventh grade after having had a lousy summer:

"Every day this summer was like crap: dog crap, cat crap -- I even had a few elephant crap days. Trust me, it was bad."

All summer long Rory has essentially been out of contact with Kirsten. All summer long Kirsten's mother and father, despite living in the same house, have essentially refused direct contact with each other. Kirsten has reacted to all this by putting on 30 pounds over a four month period. And now, as seventh grade begins, she finds that Rory is suddenly running with the in-crowd, including the uber-popular Brianna Hanna-Hines, whose dad "made a billion bucks writing a book, Woman Are Toads. Men Are Toadstools." In fact, the Hanna-Hines family has given so much money to Mountain School (the expensive Marin County private school the book's young characters all attend) that the auditorium is named in the family's honor.

Any harsh visceral reactions to book characters I may have are typically reserved for uber-clueless adults who thoroughly screw up the adolescents in their care. There are so many adolescent characters in so many books who have done so many atrocious things, and yet I find that I follow their exploits with interest and a measure of compassion rather than with venom.

But Brianna H-H is such a piece of work, such a snake, and so brightly does her attitude of entitlement shine, that she reminds me of some combo plate of the most infamous adolescents I've ever known. I uncharacteristically spent the entire evening that I read this book being deeply pissed off at this seventh grade girl character. In fact, I'm still deeply pissed off at that seventh grade girl character.

That is not to say that clueless adults aren't also present here in full force. One of the lessons one might take away from IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD is that behind every clique of snotty, privileged girls is a clique of snotty, privileged moms who still know how to play the game. I can just imagine Kirsten's own mother back in the Seventies or the Eighties, sucking up to the alpha-girl and taking part in inflicting the sort of hurtful pecking order nonsense on less-fortunate peers that her daughter is now falling victim to.

"There's always one they make fun of, Kirsten. There always is. You do not want to be that one.'
" 'Mom, please.' She's followed me into the kitchen. I grab an Evian.
" 'I want you to have fun, Sweetie. You'll never be young like this again.'
"I snort. 'Thank god.'
" 'Sometimes you have to play the game, Kirsten. You don't want to be like Debby Decaterman. God, did the girls make fun of her. It was awful. But she kind of deserved it, too. She was pathetic.'
" 'Pathetic. I know what that means. It means fat,' I whisper.
"My mother's face darkens. 'I won't have you moping around her feeling sorry for yourself, making poor food choices.' She slams the broom closet door. The dustpan crashes off the hook."

So far, I've only given you one-half of the equation. IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD is actually told from two alternating points of view: Kirsten's chapters, which are told in the first-person, and Walk's, which are told in the third-person.

Walk -- Walker Wilburt Jones -- is a new student, a scholarship student, at Mountain School:

"Walk wishes Matteo were black instead of Mexican, through. He doesn't like being the only black kid in his grade -- one of three at the whole school. It makes him feel like there's a giant bull's-eye painted on his naked brown booty."

Walk is not only smart and fun, he's insightful, as well as friendly. He and Kirsten meet the first morning of school after Kirsten's mom reacts weirdly upon seeing Walk being dropped off at The School. Walk's immediately got an intuition about Kirsten, and when things are going badly for her he invites her into his own lunch crowd, which includes Matteo, whose one flaw in Walk's eyes is that he lets the popular girls, particularly Brianna, call him Burrito Boy and walk all over him.

Another notably smart character in IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD is Kirsten's little sister, second-grader Kippy McKenna, who -- at the rate she's going -- will probably be passing her medical Boards before she's old enough to legally drink: " 'You didn't ask about second grade. We are doing an in-deep study of the letter P. P is very important. How could you spell psoriasis without a p? Jenna W. said everyone knows psoriasis starts with an s. And I said, excuse me but it starts with a p. I can spell all the McKenna diseases! Corns. C-o-r-n-s. Vaginitis. V-a-g --' " 'No. Oh please. You didn't say that,' my mother interrupts, her neck flushed. "Kippy nods her little face dead serious."

In this exceptionally engaging contemporary tale that certainly should be taught by sixth and seventh grade English teachers and is sure to become a staple of mother-daughter bookgroups, Gennifer Choldenko has slipped in a number of especially intriguing plot-twists that actually cause the story to make even more sense than it already did. In several instances I'd picked up just enough clues to feel confident that I knew where the story was heading, but was totally and delightedly surprised to find myself wrong.

IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD is Gennifer Choldenko's best book yet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, August 20, 2007
This review is from: If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Hardcover)
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.

Reviewed by: Julie M. Prince
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars engaging read, September 19, 2007
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This review is from: If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Hardcover)
This book reminded me strongly of "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson, what with the clique dynamics, the dysfunctional family and the tree metaphor. It also reminded me of "Harriet the Spy" because the protagonist is also smart, different and a target of the in-crowd's hostility.

Plot: Kirsten McKenna is starting seventh grade with 30 extra pounds, parents who won't stop fighting, and a less-than-secure relationship with her former best friend Rory, who is now trying to be part of the in-crowd, led by the snobby Brianna Hanna-Hines. Kirsten's mom tries to help her daughter "fit in" but her idea of fitting in is far removed from Kirsten's. Her mother's odd behavior also has to do with the new student at Kirsten's private school, an African-American boy named Walk. The book's chapters are told alternately by both teens. Walk is raised by his single mom, Sylvia and after Kirsten overhears a startling revelation from her parents, has even more to deal with than fitting in at his new school.

I liked the novel, but thought that both Kirsten's and Walk's characters could have been better developed, and that Walk should have been portrayed as more than simply the "model minority student." I also enjoyed Brianna, the villain of the tale, but thought some of her behavior was over the top. It wasn't enough that she was a snob and shallow and stupid, she also had to be racist. It would have been nice to see at least one scene suggesting why she was the way she was (usually racist kids have racist folks). The part about the talent show also rang a bit false - it seemed odd that only one parent would have that much influence; surely there were others who were wealthy and well-connected.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Not-So Exciting Secret, March 22, 2012
The Novella If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko is about a young girl named Kirsten who is going in to her middle school years. On her first day back from her boring summer she meets Walk. Kirsten finds herself talking to him a lot due to the fact he wasn't rude to her like most kids.
Throughout this story Kirsten loses her bestfriend,Rory, and makes new friends. She also has eating problems and she never fails to hear her parents bicker. Kirsten doesn't want anything more than to have more time to spend with her dad. Then one day she hears her parents arguing over Walk. What Kirsten hears them talking about happens to change her life forever.
On the back of If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period it says, "....Kirsten stumbles across a secret - one that could disrupt not only her friendship with Walk, but their whole lives." While yes, this statement is very true. I also found that nothing else really happened in the story. She does come upon a secret, but after she hears about it nothing else really happened. Personally I thought the story was too detailed about some things where it should have been detailed about something else. Even though I found those things about this book flawed, I do still think the overall story was okay. Because of this, I give this novella 3 stars.
Written by: Alaina H.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining middle grade read with adult themes, August 30, 2011
I'm still unsure how to review and rate this book, but here's my best shot! It is a book clearly intended for a middle grade audience, but I personally felt that at times the tone and themes seemed much more adult to me. All in all, I did find it to be entertaining to read. Here's the story in brief: Kirsten is beginning 7th grade with trepidation, low self-confidence, and an extra 30 pounds she did not have last year. Her best friend Rory seems more concerned with hanging with the popular girls than with her, and her parents appear to be on the verge of divorce. Walker is a new boy at the school, and he soon discovers that he just doesn't quite fit in with the students there. When he and Kirsten begin a friendship, things begin to look a bit brighter...until Kirsten unearths a secret that could change both their lives.

The book alternates between the viewpoints of Kirsten (who is white--I generally wouldn't report this, but racism and prejudice are major threads throughout the book) and Walker (who is black). I thought Choldenko did an excellent job capturing their unique voices. Kirsten is especially funny and clever as a narrator. The middle-school setting is very vivid and realistic. The book does deal with pretty adult themes, like racism, classism, prejudice, and marital discord. In my opinion and experience, some middle grade readers will not understand these themes, which are very subtly woven throughout the story. Advanced readers ages 12/13 and up will likely enjoy this one if they like realistic fiction stories with a school setting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars subtly touches on lots of issues, March 23, 2008
This review is from: If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Hardcover)
I was a big fan of Choldenko's "Al Capone Does My Shirts," so I had high hopes for this follow-up novel. "If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period" unfortunately does not quite hit the same note. Meet Kirsten, who has gained thirty pounds in the summer between sixth and seventh grades as an emotional response to her parent's endless fighting. Kirsten's mom doesn't help, telling her that thin girls are more well-liked. To further complicate matters, Mom makes sure she's in the in-crowd herself, made up of the over-involved moms of popular girls at school. Kirsten's dad is largely absent, and her only refuge is in her little sister, Kippy, who is especially bright.
At school, Kirsten's long time best friend Rory is pulling away, leaning toward Brianna, leader of the mean girls. Kirsten's weight gain makes her self-conscious, and the popular girls capitalize on that. Luckily, Kirsten finds better friends in boys Matteo and Walk who help her out in a few sticky situations. Matteo and Walk happen to be other races, which the in-crowd exploits as a way to further their sense of entitlement.
While this novel touches on a lot of real issues with a subtle hand, it left me feeling in the lurch. I wanted more resolution, or for more things to happen that would later need to be resolved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, July 25, 2014
By 
Scott Runyan (Doylestown, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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I chose this rating because, even though I'm 12, I know I love this book. It shows how to be friend,even though your a different race,and you can be a family even though your a different race. I just thought it was amazing, because it just shows me a different sides of people.
I really will recommend this book to my family, my friends, my teachers, and everyone who I think will enjoy this book, and everyone that enjoys reading.
Thank you Gennifer Choldenko for, writing this amazing book. I have many questions on how you thought of this amazing story, so many questions I can't fit them all on this page. So thank you so much Gennifer Choldenko for writing this book!!!!!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is just OK, January 13, 2013
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I usually don't feel compelled to write reviews of books that I have purchased on Amazon, but this one was so terrible that I had to let everyone know. This could have been a good novel; however, it ended up just being OK--and that's being generous. I will not go into detail about the plot (what little there was), as everyone else already has that taken care of. However, I will say that I found the characters to be very false and stereotypical. Kirsten is the "fat" girl who is being pressured to change by almost everyone around her (including her mother) so she will be admitted into the "popular" crowd of backstabbing girls. Her own mother keeps emphasizing the importance of being thin and fitting in with the cool kids--great message to send to all the young girls reading this novel. Walk, the new African American student at school, is probably the most likeable character; however, the author makes it clear that he is very stereotypical. He came from a "bad" school and feels like he must work harder because he is African American; also, the author insists on writing his dialogue in a horrible parody of African American speech. Additionally, Matteo (or Burrito Boy, as the others in class call him) is stereotypically Hispanic, and his mother cleans house for the richest girl in school (who basically runs his life by threatening his mother's job if he won't do her homework). These characters are continually referred to as "the poor kids," which once again attacks their self-esteem. While the novel picks up when Kirsten discovers she is closer to Walk than she imagined, the novel doesn't really give the readers a sense of closure. There are much better novels out there for middle school children, so I would advise you to keep looking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book, March 27, 2014
By 
trina leonard (Bonaire, Ga United States) - See all my reviews
This book was totally awesome. I love all the detail and small words. You should totally read this book. loved it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, February 13, 2014
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Great read this book in 2 days it was awesome amazing good happy funny unique and much more I could read it a million times
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If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko (Hardcover - September 1, 2007)
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