GIANNA Z. Launch Chapter 1: In which I hug friends, sign books, and eat too much candy corn

Yesterday’s launch party for THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. at Flying Pig Books was…well…it was the stuff launch party dreams are made of.  So many kids, teachers, readers, and friends, along with a great place for a party — the beautiful, light-filled Flying Pig Loft.  We got there early to set up…

We had a drawing for a free school/library presentation.  (Mrs. Althoff, congratulations!  My son drew your name out of the bag.  I’ll email you today so we can start figuring out the details!)

I was excited that the silicone bracelets I ordered – red and gold swirled with the book title embossed – arrived on time!  And those are Nonna’s famous funeral cookies from the book on the plate with the candy corn.  (If you weren’t there to eat some, you can download the recipe from my books page!)

My daughter helped me set up by placing a sugar maple leaf on each chair before the guests arrived.  That’s the tree Gianna and Zig are trying to identify in the book in the excerpt I chose to read, so I thought it would be fun for kids to follow along with a leaf as they tried to figure out whether it had teeth or lobes, a downy underside or not, milky sap…all those tree identifying things.

After the reading, kids had a chance to try their own hands at identifying leaves.  I set up a tree identification challenge – with photographs of three different trees and branches from each one.  Kids used the Watts Tree Finder guide – the same book Gianna and Zig use in the novel – to identify trees and win prizes.

And then it was party time!

Here I am with Flying Pig co-owner and picture book author Elizabeth Bluemle. Note her stylish accessories.

From left to right: Jo Knowles ( ) me, Cindy Faughnan ( )

Jo and Cindy and some other friends made long morning drives to be here, and it just about made me cry every time one of them walked through the door. My friend came over on the ferry from NY and brought her daughter Stephanie, who drove up from Albany for the weekend.  Stephanie is in graduate school to become a children’s librarian right now, and she’s one of my former students (also a survivor of the original monster leaf collection project that inspired my book!)

Me, Marjorie, & Stephanie

At the end of my reading, I took a minute to introduce the other authors & illustrators who were there.  In addition to Jo and Elizabeth, there were Sarah Dillard, Amy Huntington, Liza Woodruff, and Tanya  Lee Stone.  "Wow," my husband said when we were packing up the car. "You children’s book people really support one another, don’t you?"  We’ve talked about that before…how the people who work in this field are some of the nicest people around.  It’s one of so many things I love about writing for kids.

The morning flew by like leaves in a gust of autumn wind… I hugged lots of friends, read from my novel, ate entirely too much candy corn, signed lots of books (including a bunch for far-away friends!  When I came down to the store after the party, Josie presented me with a stack of "virtual book signing" copies. If you ordered one, it’s all signed and will be in the mail next week!) I’m so, so thankful to everyone who came out on the last weekend of summer and to the folks at Flying Pig, who always make an author feel so special. 

When the last book was signed, we headed to the nearby Shelburne Museum for a picnic with Jo Knowles and her family.  My daughter and Jo’s son got to be pals at her launch party for JUMPING OFF SWINGS a few weeks ago, so it was great to spend the afternoon together. Sitting on the grass, exploring the steamboat Ticonderoga, and riding the antique carousel seemed like just the right way to end the day.

51 Replies on “GIANNA Z. Launch Chapter 1: In which I hug friends, sign books, and eat too much candy corn

  1. Thank you!

    Many thanks for helping all of us who are fans of Gianna and you to live this launch party with you through the pictures and your descriptions…what a great day for all!

    P. S. Can’t remember if I have previously mentioned this but at age 61 I still have the 7th grade leaf collection I made for science class with over a hundred leaves native to Arkansas…it was a rite of passage in my small hometown!

  2. Such attention to detail, such enthusiasm and graciousness; well done, Kate. Here’s to a fall full of brilliant book events!

    (who had to settle for virtual, but is excited for a signed hardcover copy of this special book to arrive)

  3. It really was a wonderful party! Yesterday afternoon I sat on my deck and thorougly enjoyed The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. under a canopy of green and yellowing beech leaves and sugar maples beginning to turn. It was a perfect way to spend the day!

  4. So glad to be part of your special day, Kate! Everything was beautiful. You put so much thought into all the details and that really makes a difference. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    (And thanks for spending the day with us. We had so much fun!)

  5. Kate, it looks like SUCH a wonderful time. CONGRATULATIONS on your launch!

    I especially loved seeing your former student who is studying to become a children’s librarian! Talk about gratifying.


  6. Re: Thank you!

    It was a great day – thanks!

    I would love to see a photo or two of your 7th grade leaf collection from years ago! That’s so amazing that you still have it!

  7. Thanks so much for coming, Sarah! And I just have to tell you…when I was introducing you, my daughter was sitting near the front. I heard her gasp and saw her eyes get wide when she heard that you created PERFECTLY ARUGULA – she loooves her signed copy and hadn’t realized you were there until then!

  8. bril-liant /bril-yant/ adj 1. very bright 2. distinctive 3. (a gem cut in a particular form with many facets) ….It’s you. Congratulations. We’re so proud. Love,Mom&Dad

  9. Thanks for the fun details – and inspiration! – for those of us who could not be in Vermont for the launch. You can tell your husband you have MANY children’s writers supporting you from afar. That’s just the way we are.

  10. Aw, thanks. Love you!

    PS – We just got back from the Lake Placid event today – gorgeous weather, and they had me sitting out at a table in front of the store on Main St! So much fun!

  11. What a fun party! May every writer have a Flying Pig in their future!

    Saw your book in the B&N today on the Wash. State University campus. I would’ve snapped it up…if I hadn’t already pre-ordered it during a late-night Amazon binge.

  12. congratulations!!!

    My husband, too, has noted with some awe how we support each other.
    And have a lot of fun doing so, I might add.
    It looks like this was one of those days. Love the leaves!

  13. Re: congratulations!!!

    I know just what you mean – I have fun, too, and I smiled a huge smile signing your books Saturday, thinking of our time at the retreat.

  14. So cool1 Wish I could have been there, but we were identifying our own leaves on Mt. Thomas in the Adirondacks! Can’t wait to get a hardcover copy!