Brown Bear’s Review:
This book has two main characters.
First, there’s Kirsten McKenna, a slightly plump girl with a genius younger sister named Kippy, two parents who fight all the time, and a giggle that Kirsten insists, to use it, you have to be “…size three and named Barbie.” She also has a best friend named Rory. But suddenly, Rory doesn’t seem like the best friend she had been. She’s been hanging around with Brianna, the queen bee of Mountain School, whom Kirsten hates. Her mom keeps giving her unwanted advice, and Kirsten dislikes the way her father calls her a genius when everyone knows that’s Kippy, not her.
Then, there’s Walker Jones, who’s being sent to a private school and is trying his best to stay out of trouble, somewhat aided and abetted by his cousin, Jamal, with whom he went to school before switching. Even though Walk has better friends now, like Matteo, his mother, Sylvia, is still afraid he’ll wind up in juvie hall. Walk says, “Don’t have to worry, Momma. Before I go bad I’ll let you know, send a Hallmark card ready-made for the occasion…’On the Eve Your Son Messes Up’,” but Sylvia doesn’t think it’s funny.
Kirsten and Walker are similar to each other. They go to the the same school, they are in the same grade, and they are friends. But there is one, seemingly important, difference: One is white and the other is black.
I enjoyed this book. It was a very good story and it was funny. I love a book that can make me laugh out loud.
There were, however a couple of things that bothered me. For one thing, the two main characters, who were supposed to be in seventh grade, seemed to act much older than that. Maybe it was just me…?
Also, the book starts out involving, mostly, Kirsten and Walk’s problems at school and how they deal with them there and at home, and for about two thirds of the book, this is most of what the story is about. However, the key part of the story, which takes place in about the last third of the book, doesn’t really involve the school at all. There is very, very little foreshadowing of what happens at this point.
But despite this, it was a good book, funny and interesting.
The two main characters alternate chapters; one chapter is told from Kirsten’s point of view, in first person, and then the next is told from Walk’s point of view, but in third person. I found this switch in persons, especially, somewhat confusing, and I couldn’t really discern the author’s purpose in organizing the book this way. Also, Brown Bear’s right: the kids in the story do act more like ninth or tenth graders. The mom in the story is disturbing. Her emphasis on popularity at any cost is not doing her daughter any good at all, and mom’s problems seem to overwhelm her parenting abilities and make her into Monster Mom.
This book may be more appropriate for older kids, young adult rather than middle grade. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for children who are still in elementary school. There are plot developments, the ones Brown Bear refers to at the end of her review, that would confuse many younger children.
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period has been nominated for the Cybil Award for Middle Grade Fiction.
Becky’s Book Reviews: “Anyway, the book is well written. And it’s a fast, enjoyable read. While not all the characters are likable, all are well-developed.”
In the Pages: “I absolutley HAD to read this one as I loved her book, Al Capone Does My Shirts. I will preface by saying it didn’t hit me AS HARD as Al Capone, but I did like it, and I think teens will enjoy it as well.”
Books4Ever: “This is a great story with a major surprise that really looks at what it means to be a family. The book switched off perspectives between Walk and Kirsten which gives you many sides to what life is like for these two middle schoolers.”