Blue Willow Content Team's blog

The Many Surprises of Greg Pizzoli

How can you not love Greg Pizzoli? The prolific author/illustrator is responsible for a handful of our favorite picture books from recent years, including Templeton Gets His WishThe Watermelon Seed, and The Quest for Z. On top of that, he's an all-around sweetheart who knows how to put on an excellent school visit. Our kind of guy, in other words.

Greg's joining us here in Houston for a couple of school visits this month, and we're working hard to book an in-store appearance sometime next year. In the meantime, tide yourself over by reading his insightful Q&A below. We asked about what he has on the horizon, all those little goodies hidden in his books, what it was like to illustrate a manuscript by Margaret Wise Brown, and more. 

Jessica Brody Can't Sit Still

If we could describe Jessica Brody in one word, it would be “WOW!” Why? For starters, this powerhouse of an author released 3 books this year, has another 3 slated for 2018, plus a new sci-fi series due in early 2019. She was also one of 25 authors featured at this year’s Tweens Read Festival here in Houston, and has attended another handful of festivals to boot. In her own words, she “can’t sit still,” and it shows.

True to form, she responded within approximately 30 minutes with awesome answers when we reached out to her with questions earlier this month. Want to know what she’s reading? Why she loves writing multiple genres? How she produced those killer book trailers? Make like Jessica, and read on!

We're Planning Something Special for Indies First Saturday: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

It's a long letter this time. This morning was the first time back in the gym for me after I fractured my foot in May. I think I will be feeling the pain in the morning! But it's not like I haven’t lifted pounds and pounds of books recently—we've hosted several authors recently who like heavy books with lots of pictures. (Did you get a chance to meet Ree Drummond? She was wonderful.)

We had a delightful evening with the Bush sisters last week. They were funny, warm, and the crowd loved them. I've been asked to tell you about the books and authors that they mentioned. Barbara is a huge fan of Junot Díaz, especially his short story collection. Jenna is friends with as well as a fan of Emma Straub. She loved Modern Lovers and The Vacationers. And she has been reading and rereading Splat The Cat to those two adorable daughters.

Book Bites: Mr. Adams, Mrs. Osmond, Ms. Poole, and Their Shadows

The days are getting shorter and the nights are cool and clear. It's the perfect time of year to grab a good book and spend some quality armchair time before the holiday madness sets in. This week, we have something to suit every taste.

We were delighted to see Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis in the store this month—their latest collaboration, The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, is a wonderful story for smart young readers. On the adult side of things, Andy Weir is back with his follow-up to his 2011 smash hit The MartianIt's called Artemis, and it's brimming with more of the science, heart, and humor that made you fall in love with his first book. If space isn't your bag, check out Mrs. Osmond by John Banville. It's a clever continuation of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, and it earned the prestigious Alice Seal of Approval. We've got plenty more to pique your fancy, too—we suggest reading 'em all.

From the Blue Willow Test Kitchen: BREAD IS GOLD Is Gold

Everyone is buzzing about Bread Is Gold, the new cookbook by Massimo Bottura from Phaidon Press, and that includes the Blue Willow staff. We love the whole package. From the unique Tyvek cover to the beautiful colors of the photographs, it deserves a place on your shelves. 

The best part is the story of how the book came to be. When super-chef Massimo Bottura (of three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) was asked to be a part of the Milan Food Expo in 2015, he decided to embark on an ambitious plan...

Book Bites: Dickens, Death, and Cookies (Oh My!)

The air is crisp, the skies are clear, and the sweaters temporarily came out of storage. The fabulous fall weather this week has us bristling with anticipation for Halloween—and looking ahead to winter holidays, too. 

It’s the perfect time to curl up with a book. Whatever your mood this season, spooky or sweet, our staff is ready with great recommendations. Read on for a roundup of what we’ve been loving, or stop by the shop to chat about hundreds more. 

We're About to be Very, Very, Impossibly-Very Busy: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

On Saturday, Leland Melvin, astronaut and former NFL star, will keynote our annual Tweens Read festival. This festival has grown from a crazy idea introduced to me at our second TeenBookCon to a rollicking day where kids and authors join together in their love of books.

The fun doesn't stop there. Bluebonnet nominee Cassie Beasley (Circus Mirandus) visits the shop next Tuesday with her latest, Tumble & Blue. Wiley Cash, a dear friend of the shop, follows next Wednesday. Read his Q&A on our blog to learn why The Last Ballad is his most ambitious work yet. Next Saturday, don't miss Melanie Shankle of the Big Mama Blog. Stick around 'til 4 for a special launch party commemorating the promising debut of Houston author Liara Tamani.

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis on the Magic of Middle Grade

You may not know it, but you know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Meloy is the lead vocalist and guitarist for popular indie rock outfit The Decemberists, while Ellis is a Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator. (She also supplies illustrations for the band.) They live outside of Portland, Oregon, on a farmstead, with their two young sons and a proliferation of fruit trees.

Book Bites: The Wolf, The Vanderbeekers, and the Last Ballad Are Calling My Name

Another week, another batch of delicious reads. If you take a look at our Events Calendar, you’ll see that we’re entering our very-very-impossibly-very busy time. With so many events on the horizon, we’re even more excited to share some of these reviews with you, because the recommendation also comes with an opportunity to meet the author!

We can’t wait for you to read Wiley Cash’s The Last Ballad. Not only is Wiley a staff favorite, but he also considers this latest novel to be his most ambitious. Meet Wiley in the shop on Wednesday, October 25th, and prep for the event by reading the fantastic Q&A he did with us on our blog. Liara Tamani’s lovely debut, Calling My Name, hits shelves on 10/24. Likened to the work of Sandra Cisneros, this lyrical coming-of-age story should be at the top of your TBR. Meet Liara and hear more about her first novel at her launch party here in the shop on Saturday, October 28th! Don’t forget to read her insightful Q&A on our blog before the event.

Also, please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse—it is hysterical.

Wiley Cash Is Right on Time

You may have noticed a certain word picking up steam in the book world over the last year: Timely. To some extent, new books are always timely. They, like all art, reflect the culture of the day. But as society collectively sits up and confronts difficult issues, we've enjoyed an unprecedented run of feminist booksdiverse books, and books of social and cultural importance. One of the best? The Last Ballad, by staff-favorite author Wiley Cash.

You may already know Wiley from a pair of best-sellers that have long held a special place on the Blue Willow shelves. If you haven't read his work, we think it's high time you start. But don't take it from us—we caught up with Wiley for a Q&A to celebrate the publication of The Last Ballad, and he told us why he considers this book his most ambitious yet. Read on, then stop by the store to pick up your copy. You'll have just enough time to read it before Wiley visits us on the 25th.

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