More Than Sunny by Shelley Johannes

Hi, Shelley Johannes! Oh my goodness, I smiled and smiled and smiled the first time I saw More Than Sunny’s cover image. It radiates love and joy. And then I saw the full jacket spread. WOW! And then I saw the case cover! Yippie-i-oh!!!!!!! I couldn’t wait to read it, which I did immediately. And then I read it again. And then I read it again. And then I looked at the cover, jacket, and case cover again. It’s sunny and funny! It’s sweet and upbeat! It’s charming and darling!

Shelley Johannes: Hi, Mr. Schu!!! Thank you so much for having me here! I’m so happy More Than Sunny’s cover made you smile because I smiled incessantly making it! And after reading your responses, I’m smiling even more!!! Did you know you’re the first person I’ve sent a sneak peek of the book? 

Wow! Thank you! I'm honored! 

Shelley Johannes: I’m so excited to share the cover today—and I can’t wait until spring, when we can finally share the full book with everyone, too!

Scenario: A bookseller at Bookbug in Michigan asks you to fill out a shelftalker about More Than Sunny. There is enough space for 280 characters.

Shelley Johannes: WHAT’S BETTER THAN A SUNNY DAY? How about one that’s sunny. . . and birdy? Or windy and squirrelly? Or the day you discover weather is always more than weather? This sweet book celebrates the joy we find each day. You’ll want to grab someone’s hand and pull them outside to play!


Shelley Johannes: Sidenote: If I lived closer to Bookbug, I think I’d make it my home-away-from-home and hang out there every single day!

Me, too! 

Please tell us about the materials you used to make More Than Sunny’s art.

Shelley Johannes: I created the art on tracing paper (I could write a whole post about how much I love working on tracing paper!) with graphite pencil, brush markers, colored pencils and all kinds of pastels—then layered the pieces together using Photoshop. My goal was to keep a spirit of play. The risk of working by hand, getting messy, and all the surprises that occur experimenting with materials made me so happy.

Please finish the following sentence starters

I hope More Than Sunny brings a bunch of joy! I hope kids ask to read it again and again, and then have a blast going outside and making their own discoveries.

Emma Ledbetter, Stephen Barr, Ann Bobco, and Heather Kelly each had a special part in the process of making More Than Sunny, and I feel so incredibly lucky! I hope they each know how grateful I am. I’m obsessed with creative process—and one of my favorite parts is getting to collaborate with people I deeply admire. When I flip through the pages of More Than Sunny, I see endless momentos of their brilliance, insight and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to get sappy. I wish we could all teleport for a celebratory lunch!

Story is the way I process life. It’s how I connect to myself and others, and often plays the role of therapist, teacher and friend. And maybe most important. . . it helps me appreciate the little things and constantly widens my view.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if the dog on the cover is based on my childhood pet! As a kid I wanted a dog more than anything. One happy day, I found a stray under my neighbor’s clothesline and mistook her for a fallen fur coat. It seemed more likely to find a fur coat under a clothesline than the dog of my dreams. We quickly became inseparable pals. I love that, all these years later, my fluffy childhood friend showed up in my sketchbook, wanting to trot along on another adventure.

Look for More Than Sunny on May 11, 2021. 

Shelley Johannes is the author-illustrator of the Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker chapter-book series. A former architectural designer, she has a fondness for tracing paper, process, and accidental discoveries. She and her family live in Michigan with two feathered friends, Max and Alex, who make every day sunny and birdy. More Than Sunny is her debut picture book.


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