Have you noticed? There’s been a terrific wave of historical fiction washing over our shelves this spring. Below, we highlight three of the best, spanning over 100 years. Read them in chronological order for some Blue Willow Brownie points. We’ve got mysteries, too—from a British boarding school for tweens to intrigue and murder on the streets of Houston. If that’s not your thing, Alice just finished a fascinating novel packed with insightful social commentary. Plus, we share our thoughts on the new novel by Sally Rooney—if you haven’t already, put her on your list of names to know. Read on!
Blue Willow Content Team's blog
Friends, every now and then a book comes along that we believe should be on every shelf. The most recent entrant into that rarefied category is The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown. Written by our dear friend Mac Barnett and illustrated by rising star Sarah Jacoby, it's simply sublime. In 42 gorgeous pages—one for each year of Margaret Wise Brown's extraordinary life—Barnett and Jacoby create a moving, empowering portrait of a fascinating woman who forever changed the landscape of children's literature. The lovely text and stunning illustrations combine to create one of the most beautiful and—yes—important picture books we've ever seen.
We're offering a special preorder campaign to support the book—when you preorder a copy of The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown before May 16, we'll send you a first edition that's signed by Sarah and signed and personalized by Mac. Check out our Q&A with Sarah, then scroll to the bottom of the post to learn more about our exclusive offer. And stay tuned for an interview with Mac, coming soon!
Kate DiCamillo! Kwame Alexander! Kadir Nelson! Our shelves have been hit by a winning influx of Ks over the last few weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited. From the legendary Kate DiCamillo, we have a wonderful new picture book that serves as a prequel to the early-reader Mercy Watson series. Elsewhere in picture books, Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson have teamed up for a stunningly beautiful US history lesson for any young reader. Plus, there’s an incredible debut YA novel by Kip Wilson to check out (from Kwame’s Versify imprint, no less). Believe by Robert Sabuda doesn’t have a single K to its name… but it will knock you over with its innovation and beauty. (We tried.)
Moving over to the adult side of the store, we have two novels and a book of essays you’ll want to add to your list. Up first, The Book of Dreams marks the return of Little Paris Bookshop author Nina George. Stay Up With Hugo Best is a timely, witty debut full of sharp social commentary. And Helen Ellis’ hilarious Southern Lady Code is a rowdy romp through life and womanhood below the Mason-Dixon.
Danielle Paige is a master at taking a world you think you know and flipping it on its head in interesting ways. Just look at her bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, which showed readers a dark and eerie side of Oz that was miles away from any other adaptation before or since. Now, Paige is tackling Aquaman and Atlantis—specifically, the Atlantean penal colony of Xebel, where a warrior princess named Mera takes a mission to overthrow Aquaman and ascend to the throne. Her heart, however, has different plans. Mera's not exactly a new character—she's crossed paths with Aquaman since the 1960s. But in Paige's hands, she shines in ways she never has before—Mera is a full-fledged superhero in her own right, and Paige's new graphic novel, Mera: Tidebreaker, celebrates the princess in all her butt-kicking glory.
We're looking forward to learning more about this empowering character when Danielle Paige visits us at the shop on April 9. Check out our Q&A with the author, then pre-order your copy of Mera: Tidebreaker and plan to join us. It's going to be a super night. (We couldn't resist.)
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you probably know that we often try to find some kind of theme to frame our bi-weekly roundup of staff picks. Sometimes the books we feature are all written by women, for example. Sometimes the women are named Sarah. And so on. The theme for this week? How much we miss Alice. Our resident book orderer and literary tastemaker is off on another one of her globetrotting vacations, leaving our little shop a smidge short on its signature pizzazz. So of the seven titles featured below, four are recent favorites of the marvelous Ms. Meloy. (And don’t you worry—she brought a whole bookcase worth of e-books on her trip, so there will be plenty more Alice-approved picks coming your way after she returns.)
Journalist and biographer Susan Page has covered six different White House administrations and ten presidential elections through her work as the Washington Bureau chief of USA Today. She's uniquely positioned, then, to shed light on the lives and legacies of some of America's most interesting and important political figures. Her new book, The Matriarch, does just that—it's a compulsively readable look at a popular, poweful woman who holds a special place in the hearts of many Houstonians: Barbara Bush.
We can't wait to welcome Susan to the shop on April 8, when she'll sign copies of her book and visit one-on-one with readers and fans. Pre-order your copy of The Matriarch now, then check out our exclusive Q&A with the author. We touch on the former First Lady's childhood, her life in Texas, her penchant for a good murder mystery, and more.
Have you heard about the debut YA novel drawing comparisons to Jason Reynolds and Matt de la Peña? It's Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez, and it's a stunning portrayal of two Mexican-American families in El Paso, Texas. Using three distinctive narrators, Mendez tackles difficult themes of race and social justice with a sure hand and plenty of heart. It's one of our favorite books of the season, and a must-add for your TBR pile.
We're thrilled to host Matt at the tenth annual TeenBookCon this weekend, where he'll be joined by 23 other fantastic YA authors. Join us on March 30 at Clear Springs High School—you'll be able to attend panels, connect with authors, get your book signed, and catch a great keynote from Angie Thomas and Laurie Halse Anderson. You can register now... but first, read Matt's exclusive Q&A. Trust us: It will only leave you more excited for the weekend.
There's nothing in publishing quite as magical as a perfect debut novel. Not only does it make for great reading, but it so sublimely sets the stage for books to come. The latest debut to make our hearts flutter and our other books jealous? Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds, the time-travelling love story (written by a former NASA intern) that you didn't know you were waiting for. We'll be plain: This pitch-perfect, hilarious, heartfelt novel needs to be at the top of your TBR list. If that's not enough, take the recommendation of folks you already know and love—folks like Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, and our very own events coordinator, Cathy Berner. "It's funny and suspenseful—part Groundhog Day, part Love Story... a great story and a great new voice," says Cathy. And she would know—she chaired the nationwide Indies Introuduce committee that selected Opposite of Always as one of the top debut novels for young adults this spring.
We can't wait for you to meet Justin at the tenth annual TeenBookCon on March 30—he'll be there alongside 23 other wonderful young adult authors and thousands of fans. Tempting though it sounds to time travel straight to the festival, that technology continues to elude us here at the shop. So instead, tide yourself over by checking out our exclusive Q&A with the author. Then take a minute to register for TeenBookCon so you can meet Justin, ask questions, and get your book signed. We'll see you then!
Happy Women's History Month, friends! We're proud to be a woman-owned, women-run independent bookshop every day of the year, but this month is a special reminder to highlight the invaluable contributions of women. We're excited to highlight books by women authors below — including a sweet picture book, a wonderful piece of historical fiction, a fantastic debut novel, and a selection of books by authors who will be featured at this month's tenth annual TeenBookCon!
We’ve been busy, busy, busy preparing for TeenBookCon 2019, which will feature 24 of the best YA authors writing today. To say that we’re looking forward to it is just a tiny bit of an understatement — none other than Angie Thomas and Laurie Halse Anderson (!!!) are keynoting the festival — so we’re turning a chunk of this biweekly roundup over to them. Dig in and read on, friends.
Have you heard about The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan? It's an urgent and powerful debut novel about the LGBTQIA+ community in contemporary Bengali culture that deftly balances heartache and hope. And its titular protagonist is bound to end up on your list of favorite YA characters. Don't just take our word for it, though—Rukhsana landed on the Spring 2019 Kids' Indie Next List, and has been featured on Hypable, Parade, and BookRiot. The book has even drawn praise from some of our other favorite authors, like Sandhya Menon, Samira Ahmed, and Sara Farizan.
We're so excited to welcome Sabina Khan to the tenth annual TeenBookCon on March 30, where she'll be joined by 23 other fantastic authors and thousands of fans from the greater Houston area. Check out our exclusive Q&A at the jump, then hurry up and register for TeenBookCon so you can meet Sabina, get your book signed, and spend a day surrounded by some of the coolest readers and authors around. What could be better than that?