Centering Black Voices

A Q&A with Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison, Author and Illustrator of HAIR LOVE

Friends, have you seen the charming new picture book gracing our display this week? It's called Hair Love. Adapted from the animated short film of the same name, the book is a celebration of fathers and daughters—and an ode to loving your natural hair.

It's a sweet and empowering story, and we can't wait to share it with you. What's more, we're absolutely thrilled to welcome the author, Matthew A. Cherry, to the shop on May 21! You may remember Matthew from his time as a wide receiver in the NFL. Nowadays, he's an author and filmmaker—and was named to Paste Magazine's list of Directors to Watch in 2016. Matthew will be joined by our friend (and Bookworm Festival 2019 alum) Vashti Harrison, who illustrated the book and provided character art for the short film.

Check out our Q&A with the creators, then be sure to head to our events calendar for the details—we're looking forward to seeing you!

Danielle Paige on Graphic Novels, Superheroes, and MERA: TIDEBREAKER

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.)

TeenBookCon Author Justin A. Reynolds on Writing, Time Travel, and OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

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!

Christian Robinson on Art, Inspiration, and ANOTHER

Christian Robinson's distinctive illustrations are well-known to anyone who's been paying attention to picture books over the last several years. He's the artist behind best-selling favorites like Gaston and Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio, and Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, for which Robinson received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. The list goes on—Robinson has worked with Mac Barnett, Cynthia Rylant, and Renee Watson, and has twice teamed up with Matt de la Peña, including for Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal Last Stop on Market Street.

Early next month, Robinson will publish his first book as an author-illustrator, Another. It's a beautiful, wordless adventure story, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of emerging readers. Even more exciting? We're hosting Robinson right here in the shop on the book's release day, March 5. Prepare for the event by reading our Q&A, then make plans to join us—we can't wait to see you there.

Jasmine Guillory on Characters, Cupcakes, and THE PROPOSAL

Jasmine Guillory is one of the breakout authors of 2018, and we couldn't be more pleased. Her debut, The Wedding Date, was released in January, after picking up endorsements from NPR, Roxane Gay, and scores of independent bookstores across the country (including yours truly). It's not hard to see why—Guillory writes in effervescent prose that's effortlessly readable and a whole lot of fun. She creates lovable, well-drawn characters that immediately feel like old friends. And she writes about food in a way that will have you rushing out to enjoy a three-hour lunch at around 10 AM. 

Join us on Monday, October 29 at 7 PM when we welcome Jasmine to the shop for a discussion and signing of her new book, The Proposal. (Cathy's been dreaming of this day since she first got her hands on an uncorrected proof of The Wedding Date about a year ago.) The book is lovely—it's a sensational semi-sequel to The Wedding Date, and it recently earned a spot on the November Indie Next List, cementing its status as a must-read book this fall. Pre-order your copy—after reading our lovely Q&A with the author.

Tweens Read Keynote Speaker Varian Johnson on Building Plots—and Bridges

Texas author Varian Johnson has a gift for plot. His fast-paced, hilarious books shine with tight writing, clever dialogue, and lovable characters—none moreso than his latest novel, The Parker Inheritance, a smart and socially-conscious mystery that's a ton of fun to read. (It also earned enough starred reviews to form a small constellation.)

We can't wait to welcome Varian to our Tweens Read festival on October 13, where he'll deliver the morning keynote address. After that, he'll be joined by over 25 other wonderful authors, including #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab, New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix, and National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Birdsall. (For the full lineup, click here.) It's going to be a wonderful event, full of author panels and autographs. Check out our Q&A with Varian, then make plans to meet us at South Houston High School for the big day.

Meet Jasmine Guillory, Author of the Year's Most Charming Debut

Jasmine Guillory by Andrea Scher

It's tough to escape stereotypes. Not too long ago, if somebody handed you a romance noel, you'd probably expect steamy scenes with a lot of tartan torn to shreds. At the very least, a pirate or two, or the hero getting called a "rake." That was before Jasmine Guillory, a Stanford-Law-grad-romance-novelist who's responsible for The Wedding Date, one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year. 

Meet Liara Tamani, An Exciting New Voice in YA Lit

Get used to hearing the name Liara Tamani. The Houston author is poised to grab her share of literary headlines when her debut novel, Calling My Name, is released later this month. It's a beautiful, thoughtful story about a young girl discovering her identity, and Tamani's prose ebbs and flows with the grace and subtlety of poetry. The book is already earning critical raves, netting comparisons to the work of Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Cisneros, and Sharon Creech, among others. 

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Liara for a Q&A. Read on to learn her thoughts on inspiration, diversity in teen lit, and how it felt to see her book's cover for the first time.

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