Get to Know… Shelley Johannes!

My name is… Shelley Johannes.

I am… the author and illustrator of the Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker chapter book series, and other exciting things to come!

More randomly, I am a hoper, dreamer, and over-thinker. Lover of people, process, and celebratory pizza. Former architectural designer. Sappy parent, bird nerd, and brand-new guitarist. Most of all, I am a kid whose biggest dream came true, and I am ridiculously grateful.

As a kid, I was… nicknamed Sonar because I was always listening in on the conversations around me, often from the way-back of our wood-paneled station wagon. I had high hopes and big dreams, and an epic pair of cloud-patterned bellbottoms to accompany them.

Writing is… the way I process the world. I’m a slow processer, but that struggle to conjure vague thoughts into something tangible is a compulsion I couldn’t live without.

Drawing is… a haven. There’s nothing as relaxing as disappearing into the page and letting everything else fall away.

Reading is… my favorite way to connect.

A friend bought me Alice Ozma’s memoir, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared, as a birthday gift when I was a fairly new parent. Alice and her dad’s sweet, awkward, messy story of connecting through books impacted me deeply. Especially the idea that sharing books is sharing ourselves. Before I finished the last page, I vowed to cherish and protect reading time with my kids as a gift to all of us. A promise to be in the pages together for a lifetime. My boys are now twelve and fifteen, and reading together each night is still the best part of our day, and we defend that time like the precious thing it is.

I love that publishing has extended that reading connection to include an even broader family, and has woven threads of connection all over the place.

Books are… magic.

I’ve always wanted the power of teleportation. Books perform that magic every day. They take us endless places. They make us laugh and cry and learn and see and heal and grow. They challenge us, expose us, and enlarge us. My favorites make me pay attention and appreciate being alive—and see the wonder all around.

Did you know… my debut picture book, More Than Sunny, releases from Abrams on Tuesday, May 11th? I hope it brings readers as much joy as making it brought me. If you pre-order from Literati Bookstore by May 10th, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book, plus two free signed art prints with each purchase!

You can find me… working at home in my studio most days. Extremely high odds I’ll be in my yellow hat with a bird or two on my shoulder!

You can also find me at and—sharing birds, doodles and more!—as @shelleyjohannes on Instagram and Twitter. 

One thought on “Get to Know… Shelley Johannes!

  1. “Getting to know Shelley” was a “fun” post I think it is wonderful that she and her children make time to continue to read together! It is so important. 🙂

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