The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury (Sept. 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080279842X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802798428
  • Winner of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2009
  • IndieBound Fall 2009 Kids IndieNext List
  • Kids’ IndieNext Pick
  • New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award Nominee
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Nominee
  • Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee
  • New York Charlotte Award Nominee

Gianna Zales is a star runner with one more hurdle to jump before she goes to cross-country sectionals – a monster leaf collection project. To get it done, she’ll have to survive a rival who desperately wants to take her place at sectionals, a grandmother who leaves her false teeth in the refrigerator, and a best friend whose feelings about her are changing like the leaves. Gianna Z needs a stroke of brilliance to make it work!

“Gianna Z. is total best friend material – full of energy, humor, and heart.”

~Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

“Kate Messner’s The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. is filled with characters we fall in love with, and Gianna is the beautiful beating heart of the story. An overwhelmed procrastinator, Gianna faces the warring factions of looming science project deadlines, vicious girls, and a family on the verge of monumental change. In her desperation to hold it all together for her teachers, coaches, parents, and friends, she discovers that her greatest strength comes from within.”

~Kerry Madden, author of Louisiana’s Song and Jessie’s Mountain

“Laced with humor and heart… this is an insightful and affecting read, offering a compassionate portrayal of a family member’s illness and the discovery of beauty and inspiration in nature and poetry.”

~Booklist Review

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