You know a book has “it” when 24 fourth graders are so mesmerized by a scene, that none of them realize that we had read through half of recess. That was the case this week when we read the “wake” scene in the book “The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z”, by Kate Messner. My students love to be read to, but to get that lost on a book when the sun is shinning and we have 14 days left of school made the hair on my arms stand up.
I love this book. This school year I have read a ton of wonderful new children’s books, but this book is without a doubt takes the cake. The first time I read it I was blown away with all of the issues that this book covered: bullying, loss of a loved one, grandparents memory loss, an overbearing parent, procrastination.
It wasn’t until I started reading it to my fourth graders that I realized how much they would be able to relate to the characters and issues. I swear they were all thinking of the same girl in our school when Bianca was introduced (myself included).
We are about half done with the book and I am feeling myself anticipating different parts of the book as I see the students start to fall in love with some characters, and start to dislike others. The scene in the locker room is the part of the book that I am dying to get to. The class is going to flip out.
I’m not sure if you’ve read this book or anything else by Kate Messner, but if you are looking for a book that will make you and your kids think hard about some challenging issues this is a book you might want to put on your summer (or fall) reading list.