Monday, November 14, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z

Today’s Pick: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner

Published by Walker & Company, 2009

If seventh-grader Gianna Zales doesn't finish her leaf collecting project in time, she will lose her chance to compete in the cross-country sectionals. She’s not the best at organizing or managing her time and she finds lots of excuses for starting it later. At the same time, she and her family are struggling to deal with her grandmother’s memory loss and confusion. And Zig, a boy who used to be her best friend is starting to think of her in a different way.

My Take:
Gianna’s character was what really pulled me along to finish this story. I loved it that she wasn’t super organized and got distracted like an ordinary kid. The issues she faces in the story seemed very real to me (though I got annoyed at her mother for not being more aware of the Alzheimer’s issue). As a MG writer, it’s great to see how a lot of different plot threads (e.g. boys, mean girls, family issues, school work issue) can be tied together in one story, because this is something that I find challenging in my own writing.

Other Info:
This is a stand alone novel. Along with being a writer, Kate Messner teaches English in middle school. She is active in the writing community, on Twitter @KateMessner.

 Other books by this author include:
Sugar and Ice
Eye of the Storm (forthcoming, 2012)
Seamonster’s First Day (picture book)
Over and Under the Snow (picture book)

For more, go to Kate Messner’s website,

If you're looking for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, here are a few places to check out:

Shannon O’Donnell

Joanne Fritz
Sherrie Petersen
Brooke Favero
Myrna Foster
Anita Laydon Miller
Barbara Watson
Just Deb
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
Pam Torres
Jennifer Rumberger


  1. I loved both Gianna and Sugar and Ice. Both well written and terrific stories!

  2. This sounds like a coming of age story (in part anyways). If it is it would be awesome. I like what you mentioned about tying several plots into one. That's something I need to learn. Great feature. :)

  3. I follow Kate on Twitter and appreciate her insight. This sounds like a book my daughter and I would really love.

  4. My 13-year-old daughter and I loved Gianna Z. For younger kids, try Kate Messner's Spitfire, about the War of 1812. We liked that a lot, too.

  5. Love the character's name and the book cover. Thanks for the review!

  6. I follow Kate on Twitter, too. I've really enjoyed everything that I've read by her!

  7. I loved this book. Interesting comment about the mom's wanting to avoid the Alzheimer's issue. I can relate to that, actually. While this isn't my mom's issue, I see that tendency in myself to live as if she is just fine, because I'm unsure how I'll cope with the difficulty when she's not.


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