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Gertie's Leap to Greatness
Cover of Gertie's Leap to Greatness
Gertie's Leap to Greatness
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For fans of Three Times Lucky and The Penderwicks, this endearing new classic spins together sparkling humor, sizzle-pop writing, and a sassy main character with an unforgettable voice.

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

From debut author Kate Beasley, and with illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki, comes a classic tale of hope and homecoming that will empty your heart, then fill it back up again—one laugh at a time.

For fans of Three Times Lucky and The Penderwicks, this endearing new classic spins together sparkling humor, sizzle-pop writing, and a sassy main character with an unforgettable voice.

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

From debut author Kate Beasley, and with illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki, comes a classic tale of hope and homecoming that will empty your heart, then fill it back up again—one laugh at a time.

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  • Kindle Book
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.7
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Kate Beasley holds a Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with her family in Claxton, Georgia, with two dogs, one parrot, lots of cows, and a cat named Edgar. Gertie's Leap to Greatness is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 1, 2016
    Like the title character in Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale, the indefatigable Gertie Foy is determined to prove to an absent parent that leaving was a big mistake. Gertie, whose school bus passes her estranged mother’s house every day, sees a For Sale sign and learns her mother intends to remarry and move. She devises a five-phase plan to become the best fifth grader ever and get her mother’s attention before she departs, but Gertie’s ambitions run smack into full-of-herself new student Mary Sue Spivey. First, Mary Sue steals Gertie’s seat next to Jean, her best friend. Then, she steals Jean. Perhaps worst of all, Mary Sue’s mother, an environmental activist, begins a campaign against offshore drilling. (Gertie’s father works on an oil rig, and she lives with her Aunt Rae, who winningly sends her off each day by saying, “Give ’em hell, baby”). Given Gertie’s world of hurt, debut novelist Beasley wisely interjects humor as often as possible, and Tamaki’s winning illustrations add verve, perfectly capturing Gertie’s indomitable spirit. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    A can-do attitude, loyal friends, and a foolproof plan prove insufficient when a seat-stealing new girl swooshes in. Gertie Reece Foy is a feisty, white fifth-grader with an indomitable spirit and a surefire plan to be the greatest fifth-grader in the "whole school, world, and universe! And that was just Phase One." A for-sale sign in front of the house where her mother lives has pushed Gertie into action. Gertie lives with her dad and aunt, and she is totally fine with that. Yep! But she wants Rachel Collins, her mother, to know exactly how wonderful, remarkable, and great she is. Almost as soon as she launches her big plan, however, blonde, white new girl Mary Sue Spivey starts throwing wrenches in it. Beasley's debut is populated with a cast of homespun characters that come alive in a tasty blend of twitches, aphorisms, and good, old-fashioned meanness. In addition to determination and an endless supply of Twinkies, she gives Gertie two good friends: Junior, who brims with nervous energy, and supersmart Jean with her extra-sharp No. 2 pencils. (Tamaki depicts the latter two as white and dark-skinned, respectively, in her charming grayscale illustrations.) Readers will wonder why Gertie's mom lives so close by but evidently has no contact with her daughter, a question that may drive some to distraction. Still, the tale of Gertie and her grab for greatness is a rich and enjoyable read, and children will relate to her heartfelt emotions. (Fiction. 10-12) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2016

    Gr 4-6-A step up in reading level and length from Sara Pennypacker's "Clementine" series, this is the story of Gertie, an unself-conscious and truly determined fifth grader. The first sentence captures the spirit of the book and provides a strong hook: "The bullfrog was only half-dead, which was perfect." Gertie's desire to be great means she must surpass all of her uniquely talented classmates, including the newcomer, Mary Sue Spivey. Gertie is motivated by a need to prove to the mother who left her that she's missing out on the best kid in the world. As a plot device, it is somewhat tired, but Beasley sells it convincingly. Gertie's machinations to always stand out from the crowd are often entertaining and are assisted by deft illustration by Tamaki. There is an environmental standoff caused by Gertie's loyalty to her father, an oil rigger, and Mary Sue's mother, who is against the environmental effects of oil drilling. Though the issue remains unresolved, it offers an ideal opportunity for discussion and reflection. Readers may have met the likes of Gertie before, but her Alabama setting and the mix of interesting friends, foes, and family who surround her all provide charm.

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • DOGO Books snicker9 - Gertie has a goal. She is going to be the best 5th grader. Her reason for her goal? So that her distant mother(who is moving away and getting married), will realize that Gertie doesn't need her. But someone else has the same goal. Enter new girl, Mary Sue Spivey, who just moved from California while her dad is filming a movie here. All of a sudden she is the most popular girl in school. Mary Sue knows the most famous child actresses in the country, she knows all the answers in class, she's the teachers favorite. According to Gertie, she is just plain evil. So now Gertie must come up with a new plan. How can she become the best fifth grader ever? How can she become the smartest, the funniest, the most popular? And how can she do it while keeping her friends? I think this book was an interesting view on not-so-average families. Gertie's mom left them when Gertie was very little, but she lives just across town. Now Gertie's Great-Aunt Rae stays with her and her father and takes care of them. And Gertie's father works on an oil rig, so he is gone for two weeks and then home for two weeks. At the beginning of the book Gertie is very self-involved. However, as the book goes on there is character development, and she is a better person at the end. I recommend this to elementary students who like realistic fiction. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Kate Beasley
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