A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Don't judge people by the color of their skin, their body type, or their looks. Be yourself and don't try to be something you're not just to fit in.
Positive Role Models
Kirsten has a good heart and common sense. She's open to friendships with people of all kinds. Some of the kids at school are truly mean and cruel, and many of the adult figures in the story are disconnected and ineffectual. Several secondary characters, both adults and children, are racist -- they're not likable, and their racism is part of their nastiness.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mentions of tampons, bras, sperm. A major plot point revolves around an adult who has what is referred to as a "love child."
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A few uses of "crap." Plus "butt," "butthead," "God," "snot," "buttolgy," "shut up," "sucks," "turd." Derogatory racial names are also used: "Burrito Boy" for Matteo and "Martin Luther King" for Walk.
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Products & Purchases
Many products and stores are mentioned, including Snickers, Nike, Nordstrom, Nintendo, Amway, Seventeen Magazine, Krispy Kremes, Costco, Fritos, Ruffles, Burger King, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sylvia quit smoking but relapses once in the story. Walk catches her smoking and she quickly stamps out the cigarette. Johnny Walker is also mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) is the story of a girl who's starting seventh grade at an upscale private school and having trouble fitting in. It deals with some mean-girl issues. Also, part of the plot revolves around a "love child," and some secondary characters are racist.
Is It Any Good?
Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko knows how to draw readers in and keep them there. Kirsten and Walk are winning protagonists (and Kirsten's voice is snappy-funny), the short alternating chapters keep readers wanting more, and, just when you think you know where it's all going, there's a big coincidence that adds a fascinating level of complexity. For a book with so little action, it's awfully hard to put down.
Alternating chapters focus on Kirsten (told in first person) and Walk (told in the third person), but somehow it all works.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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