If a Tree Falls at Lunch Break

by Gennifer Choldenko | Children's Books |
ISBN: 9780747589273 Global Overview for this book
Registered by harmaja of Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on 11/22/2008
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by harmaja from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Saturday, November 22, 2008
I bought If a Tree Falls... because I've read Al Capone Does My Shirts by the same author, and that was an absolutely brilliant book. After such a great children's novel, If a Tree Falls... was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, it's witty and well-written, but so... clichéd! It has all the archetypes of this genre (think Judy Blume or Paula Danziger, for example): the female main character with self-esteem issues, the brainy little sibling, the neurotic mother, the distant father, the devious ex-best friend and her new cronies, the smart and cool but friendly lad, and the bunch of sundry social misfits that all become pals with each other. Even the one major plot twist in the book was somehow worn and tired (I'm not going to give it out here, though).

And what about the ending? Somehow all these books end in the same way: the heroine learns to cope, to look at things from different angles; she finds her place. She grows up. It's not a bad ending as such, but somehow it often seems that this resolution is somehow lacking in... something. It's so convenient that a little change in attitude suddenly makes the troubled teenager find her place and to learn to deal with all her problems. Kirsten, for example is overweight; she is bullied; she is troubled by her parents' constant fighting; she has lost her best friend. And yet, suddenly, she has found her place, and the world is a better place for it. How convenient that no real changes need to take place; the bullies need not be confronted, the parents need not get their act together, the former best friend need never learn just how much Kirsten suffered by her betrayal. Even the overweight issue doesn't have to be be tackled; apparently, it will be magically solved. (Not that I consider Kirsten's weight as a problem, it's more the bullying that gets her.)

So Kirsten will see a therapist for a while, a sweet boy seems to like her, the parents might stay together after all - why is the end still so disappointing? I guess my answer is: there's nothing subversive about Kirsten's growth to near-adulthood; it doesn't challenge anything. It's so often the same thing; we are led to believe that the girl matures, while in fact she just accepts the established order of things. She is not allowed to challenge it in any way. What kind of message do the young readers get from books like these? "You'll learn to cope, and it'll all turn out OK somehow, even if all the real problems you have will remain. The unfairness of it all will not go away, but you shouldn't fight it - just you grow up a little and then you'll see you can manage to live with it. You'll find your place in the established order of things."

Where are the books that tell kids they can take on the world, that they can challenge the things they don't like? Is such a message too dangerous to send to children?

Anyways, I don't regret reading If a Tree Falls... but I'm not going to read it again. I have Al Capone Does My Shirts in my permanent collection, but this one is not a keeper, so I'll let it go. I'm still willing to try Choldenko's book called Notes from a Liar And Her Dog. Perhaps I'll buy it next.

Journal Entry 2 by harmaja at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, December 19, 2008

Released 12 yrs ago (12/19/2008 UTC) at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland



Released in a BC meeting. / Vapautuu BC-tapaamisessa.

Journal Entry 3 by Annelis from Kerava, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, December 19, 2008
I got again a nice book at the meeting. Thank you!

Journal Entry 4 by Annelis at Kerava, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Well, the major plot was somewhat new to me. I liked the book even if it contains quite many clichés. It is well written and an easy read even if it is lacking something.
I wonder how good are the better books of Gennifer Choldenko?
Thank you Harmaja for this one!

This is my # 36 (100) in
"REDUCE MOUNT TBR 2011" Challenge arranged by Dove-i-Libri.

This is my # 33 in
"KEEP THEM MOVING 2011" Challenge arranged by Booklady331.

Journal Entry 5 by wingPiikuwing at Parainen, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The book is here, thank you Annelis!

Journal Entry 6 by wingPiikuwing at Parainen, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Well, I kinda liked it, but somehow the plot was quite shallow and predictable. My daughter has just read her first book in English (Mathilda by Roald Dahl), and I know she would like to try another one, so I'll keep this for a while.

Journal Entry 7 by wingPiikuwing at Parainen, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on Friday, October 05, 2012
This book popped up when my daughter was cleaning her room. She gave it back to me, don't think she has read it. I'll try to find another reader for it.

Journal Entry 8 by wingPiikuwing at Louhi in Turku, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on Monday, October 22, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (10/22/2012 UTC) at Louhi in Turku, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland


The book is on a brochure rack, 2nd floor, Yliopistonkatu exit.

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