Kate Messner’s Character Debut Party

THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z by Kate MessnerAaaaand… three cheers for another 2009 Debutante pick on the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List, THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z! The cover takes me right back to my favorite season, those rich colors, hot apple cider, the smell of firewood burning into the night, and I’ve been curling up this one under my fleece blanket on the couch lately, just in time to dig out the fuzzy socks and crank up the heat. Perfect!


Gianna Zales has a lot on her plate this fall – a father who drives her to school in the family hearse, a mother who’s turned into the junk food police, a little brother who thinks he’s a member of the paparazzi, and a grandmother who leaves false teeth in the refrigerator. Worst of all, she’s left her 7th grade leaf collection to do at the last minute. It’s a monster project, and Gianna will miss cross-country sectionals if she doesn’t meet the deadline. She’ll need the help of her geeky friend, Zig, and some brilliant ideas of her own to pull it off.

Gianna’s 2009 Debut Party

Gianna’s a kindred spirit of mine. In other words, I hope to finish my last-minute revisions in time so I can make it to this party! 🙂

The Guest List

Let’s see…besides Gianna’s friends Zig and Ruby, I’d invite Catherine from Cynthia Lord’s RULES because they are both artists, and Julia Song from Linda Sue Park’s PROJECT MULBERRY, so they could commiserate about their big science projects. And can my guests travel through time? (I thought I’d ask, since they’re already fictional and all…might as well go for broke) because Gianna would really love Calpurnia Tate, too!

The Party

Gianna would never want anything fancy – she’d rather just show up in jeans and her Picasso t-shirt, so a party under a tent in the backyard of the funeral parlor would be fine, as long as Dad didn’t leave the hearse out front and embarrass her like usual. Let’s see…Nonna would never let them dream of hiring a caterer, so she’d make big pans of lasagna. Mom would do a tossed salad, and there would be Nonna’s famous funeral cookies for dessert.

There’s no theme for the party, but Gianna would make tiny collages for each guest, with magazine cut-outs that matched their personalities. And for sure, everybody who comes to the party will be playing the tree game! (Hey…if YOU were a tree, what kind of tree would YOU be??)

I wish I knew more about trees, because I would love to play this game. For now, I’ll have to go with ponderosa pine, because every time I see them in Colorado, I hug them. Their bark smells like vanilla. Who doesn’t love getting hugged and smelling like vanilla? Mmmm! On the other hand, I just turned blond yesterday… so maybe I’m an aspen!

The Guest of Honor: Gianna

This party must be happening AFTER Gianna’s killer leaf project is due, so perhaps her theme song could be something that reflects her survival of that 7th grade rite of passage. Elton John’s I’m Still Standin’ or maybe the Gloria Gaynor classic I Will Survive.

Kate’s Advice for Gianna on Her Big Debut

Kick back, have some of Nonna’s cookies and celebrate. You worked hard to get here!

P.S. Go sit by Zig. :^)

Congratulations to Kate and Gianna on their fabulous fall debut! THE BRILLIANT FALL is available in book stores now, and also online through Indiebound and other Web retailers.

Kate Messner grew up in Medina, New York and graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communication with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She worked as a television news producer and reporter in Syracuse, NY and then Burlington, VT, before going back to school to get a teaching degree. These days, Kate is a National Board Certified middle school English teacher. She has helped hundreds of kids work on leaf collection projects and likes sugar maples and catalpa leaves the best. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and kids and loves spending time in the woods. Visit Kate online.

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