Lillian Tschudi-Campbell (she/her)
Marketing Coordinator, Buyer
Lily has been at Red Balloon since the fall of 2015. She has an MFAC from Hamline University and is working on writing her very own books. Lily's favorite part of her job is talking to kiddos about the books they love most (and handing out balloons!). Her least favorite part is having to remember how the alphabet works. Lily lives in Saint Paul with her extremely fluffy and extremely demanding cat, Fiddlesticks (named after a character in Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles). Her favorite books are usually magical middle grade adventure stories and #ownvoices queer YA.
A Few Favorites:
My very favorite book for new babies (also available in board book)!! The Red Balloon long-timers introduced me to this book when I started and I'm so grateful to them! It makes a great read-aloud—the rhythm and sounds are fantastic—and the illustrations are gorgeous, plus the message about community and the many kinds of families pictured are always welcome. When my nephew was born I ended up giving him both the board book AND the picture book versions of this book—that's how much I love it!
This book is a gosh darn delight from start to finish. Buy some chocolate (like, a LOT of chocolate), maybe bring a few tissues in case your feelings try to drip out of your leaky human eyes, and curl up somewhere to read this delightful book about a dragon who gets turned into a human girl by a pesky wizard. The dragon, Aventurine, is pretty annoyed about being human—no fire, no claws—but she's very intrigued by a new human invention: drinking chocolate! Maybe it's worth sticking around in human form for a while after all....
Whangdoodles is my first and truest middle grade novel love—I first read this book around age 9 and have reread it countless times since. It is by *that* Julie Andrews and it is a wonderful story of imagination and siblings and the fantastical. A little old-fashioned, but still one of my heart-books. I even have a yellow butterfly tattoo in honor of this book (if you read it, you'll understand why)!
A truly lovely fable of a builled shop boy, the cats who are his best friends, and his quest to keep his world from coming apart at the seams. When Oscar's wizard guardian/boss disappears on a mission to find a cure for a magical sickness, Oscar is forced to leave the safety of his home for an outside world that doesn't understand him. And as the sickness continues to spread, with no end in sight, Oscar will have to summon all of his courage to try to find an answer. Beautiful writing, compassionate storytelling, and utterly loveable characters—I adore this book. Written by a local author!
P.S. If you are a grown-up reader, there will be a point in this book, about two-thirds of the way through, where you will be so, so angry at what it seems like the book is about to do. But trust Anne (and trust me!), and keep reading—she would never betray us like that.
Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the greatest painters of her generation, but she also lived in 17th-century Italy, where women had no power and little recourse when wronged. When one of her father's friends sexually assaults her, Artemisia must decide whether to keep the secret or force him to face justice, no matter the cost she'll have to pay. Written in gorgeous verse, this book is heartbreaking, brilliant, and tragically relevant today. Read this book even if you don't care about art history. Read this book even if you don't usually like verse novels or historical fiction. Just read this book. It will haunt you.
Gosh, this book! A swooningly romantic love story between trans brujo Yadriel and accidentally-summoned teen ghost Julian, set in the days around Dia de los Muertos. Lovely writing, characters who I just want to wrap up in blankets and take care of, and a seriously charming love story. Written by an trans Latinx author!!
Ben gets kicked out of their house when they come out to their parents as nonbinary—in their desperation, they end up going to the house of their estranged sister. What follows is a heartbreaking-but-gentle story of finding a family, healing from trauma, and learning how to show who you really are to a sometimes-hostile world. Just lovely, with excellent writing about questioning and queer identity. Written by a nonbinary author!
One of the best books I have read in the last several years, and one of the most devastating. In the town of Lucille, all of the monsters—the ones that hurt children, that terrorize children—were eradicated from the world years ago, or so everyone believes. Jam has always been told that Lucille is safe for everyone. But then a beautiful, nightmarish angel emerges from one of her mother's paintings and tells her that there are still monsters...and one of them is living in her best friend's house. Jam will do anything to protect the ones she loves, even if it means looking in the dark corners no one else wants to look into. A gorgeously written and ultimately hopeful story about the things we don't want to see, but that we must.
I will read anything Robert Macfarlane writes (or recommends)—he is one of the best contemporary nature writers, balancing beautiful prose and a true love of the natural word with an unflinching look at the catastrophic effects of climate change, both future and present. This particular book, while delving into the underworlds of caves, the Parisian catacombs, mines, etc, confronts directly the implications and legacy of the Anthropocene (the word for the current geological age, in which humans are the biggest influence on the environment). It's unsettling, claustrophobic, and full of hope and love for a future there may still be time to create.
This book is subtitled "A Road Map for the End of Time," and while I'm not sure it's a map, it is absolutely a hiking companion—someone to walk beside you who has extra water when you run low and who won't let you fall behind. It is a wondrous piece of writing, alternately dreamy with love for the strange beauty of the desert and sharply intelligent about the crisis and horrors of America's past, present, and future. This book is philosophy, nature writing, history, political analysis, and more—I cannot recommend it highly enough (and not just because I grew up in the desert).
Note: This book was written in the Before Times, so it doesn't mention the pandemic. Admittedly, it's a little odd reading a book about the ways our world is falling apart that doesn't mention the one most currently on everyone's mind, but it doesn't take away from the true power and beauty and even wisdom of this book.