The brilliant fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner
Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781681195476
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. E.B. White Read Aloud Award 2010. On your mark... get set... go finish your science project? All Gianna Zales wants is to compete at the cross-country finals, but there's something standing in her way - a science project. She has less than a week to collect and document twenty-five leaves, and she'll lose her spot on the team if she can't pull it off. With a forgetful grandmother, a hearse-driving father, a mean-girl running rival, and new feelings toward her best friend, Gianna wishes life would just leave her alone to finish the project. Can Gianna Z. get the stroke of brilliance she needs to make it all work out?
Gianna will quickly draw people in with her infectious personality and will resonate with many tweens. With themes of family, friendship and being true to oneself, connections will be able to be made throughout the story. The various storylines including the lengths some will go to avoid completing homework, an ailing grandmother who is developing signs of Alzheimer's and the stereotypical mean girl all combine together to make an enthralling book. Gianna is torn in so many directions while trying to balance her commitment to the track team and taking on the roles of artist, daughter, friend and grand-daughter. This book will be a huge hit with a wide variety of children and I would strongly recommend it for ages 10 and up. A must have for the library collection.