Happy Monday everyone, and a big welcome to Gabi Snyder! Many of you will remember Gabi from Two Dogs on a Trike, inspired by her love of dogs, cats, and counting, and Listen, inspired by walks spent tuning into each sound. Gabi has now taken her great love for our Earth and brought us Count on Us! Climate Activists from One to a Billion.
Count on Us! is a beautiful and important introduction to environmental activism. Doubling—tripling, actually—as a counting and alphabet book, it introduces children to the many ways they can speak up and take action to save our planet. Gabi’s practical and kid-oriented suggestions are accompanied by Sarah Walsh’s bright and inviting illustrations. Recommended for children as young as 4 years old, this is a wonderful book for parents and grandparents to share with the young environmentalists in their lives.
Learn how a movement builds from one person to a billion in this A to Z environmental activism book. Readers count from 1 to 10 – and then in larger increments to a billion – as they learn new terms from “conservation” to “activism.” Inset boxes provide easy-to-understand definitions of additional new vocabulary words.
“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
Gabi studied psychology at the University of Washington and creative writing at the University of Texas. She loves hiking, ocean beaches, visiting Little Free Libraries, and baking cookies and breads. As far as writing goes, she is a fan of discovering new words and—wait for it—revising.
Gabi joins us from Corvallis, Oregon where she lives with her family, including her dog, Camille, to tell us What Was on Gabi Snyder’s…
Hike that inspired Count on Us!: Thanks, Sandra! It’s a pleasure to be featured on What Was on…! I don’t remember the exact moment when the idea for COUNT ON US! came to me, but many of my best ideas arrive during walks, so that’s a good bet! I do remember that the idea started with numbers and grew from there. 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!
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! The book was also inspired, in part, by conversations I had with my daughter about climate change and our struggles to figure out how best to help.
Biggest challenges in writing Count on Us!: As I mentioned above, figuring out how to count the climate activists in a compelling and organic way without slowing the reader with awkward-to-read numbers was a challenge. And with the alphabet element, some letters – like “X” – were more challenging than others! Even now, when I read the story aloud, my writer brain is still trying out different word combinations for each letter! Another challenge was striking the right tone. We hear a lot of doom and gloom language around climate change, and I think that can lead to a sense of helplessness and apathy. I wanted to write something that provides some optimism and hope and focuses on what we can do to help! I believe hope is a necessary precursor to action.
First thoughts when she saw Sarah’s illustrations: I was immediately drawn to Sarah’s bold and vibrant art for COUNT ON US! I especially love her endearing illustration for the “10 Joining generations” spread. Check out the Etsy store Sarah shares with her husband, Colin Walsh. They describe their creations as “weird and wonderful,” and they really are!
Most recent visit to a Little Free Library: I recently discovered a sweet Little Free Library in front of the cozy, literary-themed Sylvia Beach Hotel on the Oregon Coast. I didn’t have room in my backpack to take any books, but I left behind a copy of the TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE board book on its release day of October 18!
Latest new word discovery: Insouciant. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve looked this one up several times before. I never seem to remember that this word means “unconcern or nonchalance,” perhaps because for me the appearance of this word doesn’t match its meaning.
Desk: On my desk you’re likely to find my current writing notebook, my laptop, and (I hope!) the ghost of my sweet cat Henry who passed away last year and who would often keep me company as I wrote.
Mind: 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!, one hope I have is that 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. And I hope they’ll 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.
Also, 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. So 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!
Thanks so much, Gabi! I agree with you. Learning to speak out is so important. Thank you for this beautiful and inspirational book!
To order Count on Us!, click on the book below. Or, if you would like a signed copy, you may order from Grass Roots Books in Corvallis.
If you would like to learn more about me, take a look at my website at sandranickel.com.