We’re excited to talk to picture book author Gabi Snyder today about COUNT ON US! CLIMATE ACTIVISTS FROM ONE TO A BILLION and –just like the kids in Room 5 (in my pb, DEAR EARTH…)–
We’re making some Earth-friendly #newyearsresolutions.
“A call to eco-action based on the power of numbers . . . Young readers marching in step will meet Greta Thunberg and other iconic environmentalists and glimpse multiple ways of participating in the movement.”– Kirkus Reviews
I love that COUNT ON US! shows young readers how a movement can build from one person’s concern to a billion supporters – as they learn new terms in this A to Z environmental activism book.
Fun fact #1:
Gabi <–rhymes with baby
Fun Fact #2:
I first met Gabi when I was invited to do an Author Visit several years ago in Corvallis, Oregon, where my daughter was a 3rd grade teacher–and Gabi’s son was in her class. I remember Gabi introducing herself as a “not-yet-published” author and NOW she is a published author of THREE picture books.
(Never give up, Friends!)
Let’s start with some Questions
Q. 1 Tell us about your path to publication for COUNT ON US! Was it always a counting book? How did you decide which Earth Heroes (like Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall) to feature?
Gabi Snyder: In writing COUNT ON US!, I wanted to capture the way a movement can grow in an exponential way from something small to something huge and powerful. I’ve always been fascinated by patterns, especially growing patterns, and imagining a movement starting with one person and then growing exponentially gives me chills!
Was it always a counting book?
G.S. — Initially I drafted the story with numbers doubling with each new line/letter, so the progression was 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. But ultimately my agent and I decided that it would be cleaner and more reader-friendly to go with a base ten approach, counting by ones up to ten, then counting by tens up to 100, and then going to 1,000, 10,000, etc. up to 1,000,000,000!
G.S. — The book was also inspired by conversations with my daughter about climate change. In trying to figure out how best to help, she and I both became overwhelmed. How could we make a dent in such a huge and complex problem? It can be easy to lose hope and become apathetic. Apathy leads to inaction – which is the opposite of what’s needed right now! So I wanted to write something hopeful and inspiring, something focused on what we can do.
I am grateful to Barefoot Books, and especially to editor Emma Parkin, for helping to create the extensive back matter, including the Earth Heroes, for inclusion in COUNT ON US! I believe my original draft included Greta Thunberg, but the additional Earth Heroes were added by Barefoot.
Q. 2 Every picture book takes a village, as they say. Who is in your #kidlit village? Extra points for using the counting format of COUNT ON US! ( ex 1 editor (name please), 2 critique partners… thousands of readers!)
Gabi Snyder: With COUNT ON US!, my supportive kidlit village included…
1 fabulous agent (Natalie Lakosil)
2 Barefoot editors (Kate DePalma, who acquired the manuscript, and Emma Parkin, who edited it)
3 family members who supported me (my husband, son, and especially my activist daughter)
4 kidlit groups (2 critique groups plus SCBWI and the 12×12 picture book challenge)
5 coffeeshops (probably)
10 mentor texts (at least)
100 drafts (nearly)
1000 readers (someday!)
Call to Action!
Q. 3 I love the call-to-action theme of your book. And since DEAR EARTH… begins when Room 5 makes a New Year’s resolution to give back to Earth, what New Year’s resolutions might the characters or the activists featured in COUNT ON US! make? What resolutions might they suggest for those of us wanting to do our part?
Gabi Snyder: Erin, I love how the kids in your picture book, DEAR EARTH…, start off as Room 5 and evolve into to Earth Heroes, helping our planet even when school is out for the summer!
G.S. — I think the characters in COUNT ON US! might choose resolutions that draw upon their unique interests or skills. Each of their resolutions might look a little different. Some will speak up for science. Others will nurture native plants or join conservation efforts. I think they might look for local initiatives to join. They might resolve to research local conservation efforts and then write letters, create banners, and join rallies in support of those efforts.
G.S. — For those of us wanting to do our part, they might suggest we start with small everyday actions, like the easy day-by-day guide included in the COUNT ON US! back matter.
Q. 5 Our books make such a wonderful pairing! Taking this one step further, if the characters on one of the spreads in COUNT ON US! wrote a letter to DEAR EARTH, about things they might do to help our environment, what would they say?
We resolve to inspire the people in our lives to help you, too! Some of us are going to invite our friends and families to join us in writing letters to our legislators in support of Earth-friendly policies. And some of us are going to invite our sisters, brothers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to plant gardens and trees with us.
The kids from COUNT ON US!
Q. 5 What do you want readers to take-away after reading your book?
Gabi Snyder: When you send a book out into the world, you don’t really know how it will be received. You have hopes. With COUNT ON US!…
- I hope kids who may feel worried or overwhelmed by the problem of climate change will feel inspired and will see that there are things they can do.
- I hope readers will see that when we work to inspire others to join the fight, our actions ripple outwards. We create momentum and grow the movement.
- I also believe we can have more impact when we think about how to put our unique strengths and passions to work fighting climate change. Each person’s first steps might look a little different. The back matter in COUNT ON US! provides a starting point for kids, with information about activism, a list of inspiring ideas, and an easy day-by-day guide for taking small actions.
- I want kids to know that big businesses (especially the main polluters, like oil companies) and governments have a lot more power to fight climate change by creating plant-protecting rules and laws.
- And for the adults reading this book: I hope they will see that, while actions like recycling and planting trees are important, we need to model for our kids that it’s also our job to speak out, to let our leaders know that climate change matters to us!
Thank you Gabi,
for joining the blog today!
To learn more about Gabi Snyder and her books, check out her website: gabisnyder.com
And follow her on Instagram: gabi_snyder_writer
Up Next: We talk with four fabulous #kidlit authors about their upcoming Jewish Board Books!