Reading guide for If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

by Gennifer Choldenko

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 224 pages
    Apr 2009, 224 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. When Kirsten’s mom lets Kirsten out at the drop-off, what does Kirsten’s mom do that surprises Kirsten?
  2. Why did Kirsten and Walk have to go to school on a Saturday?
  3. Who stands up for Kirsten when she is accused of stealing Balderis’s wallet? Why do you think this person takes Kirsten’s side?
  4. Why is Sylvia worried about Jamal? What does Walk think Jamal is selling?
  5. What is Matteo’s secret? Why do you think he keeps this information to himself?
  6. What does Brianna say at the open house that is so hurtful to Walk? Why is it hurtful?
  7. If you had been Kirsten, would you have helped Matteo? If so, how?
  8. Is Mrs. McKenna helpful in dealing with Kirsten and her weight problems? If you were Mrs. McKenna, what would you do differently?
  9. Have you ever had experiences like those Kirsten has with Rory or Matteo has with Brianna? If so, how did you handle them? How might you handle similar problems in the future?
  10. How does Matteo feel about Kirsten? What makes you think this?
  11. Many characters in the book have secrets, including Sylvia, Mac, Matteo, and Jamal. Which secrets would you have had the characters reveal? Which secrets would you have had them keep? Are there times when keeping a secret about yourself is a good idea? Explain.
  12. What decision does Walk make about Mountain School? Why does he make it?  Would you have made the same decision?
  13. Walk’s chapters are told in the third person. Kirsten’s chapters are told in the first person. Why do you think the author uses two perspectives?
  14. When Walk is writing about the question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? He says: “A tree is a tree with all its sounds, sticks, leaves, dirt, roots, whatever. Anyone tells you otherwise, they’re wrong.” What is he really talking about? What does this have to do with what he has discovered about himself during the course of the book?
  15. When Kirsten tells Kippy she thinks their parents will plant the tree, what is she really saying? What has the tree come to symbolize for the McKenna family?
  16. How does Walk feel when he finds out why Jamal is working so hard to make money? Why is this significant?
  17. Does Kirsten change by the end of the book? Does Walk? How has their friendship helped them deal with the crises in their lives?


  1. Create a writer’s notebook like the one Walk is working on in Ms. Scrushy’s class. Write about the quotes he has been asked to write about. Find five new quotes Ms. Scrushy might assign to write about in the future. Write your thoughts about those new quotes, too.
  2. Write a letter to someone who has treated you the way Brianna and Rory have treated Kirsten, or how Brianna has treated Matteo. Tell this person how you wish to be treated in the future and why you feel that way. Be specific.
  3. If you were creating your own middle school, what would it be like? In a group or on your own, write the rules that would be enforced at your middle school. Make a map of the school. Draw a flag for the school. Create the cafeteria menu.
  4. Have you ever been the only boy in a situation? Or the only girl? The only Hispanic person? The only Caucasian person? The only Jewish person? The only tall person? The only short person? Write a short essay about your experience; use humor if possible.

Copyright © 2007 Harcourt
Discussion questions written by Gennifer Choldenko

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harcourt Children's Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.