AWC Author Podcast Series: This Tree Counts!

Welcome to the Albert Whitman & Co. author/illustrator podcast series.  Every week we interview one of our talented authors or illustrators to explore the inspiration behind our favorite books.  This week we are talking with Alison Formento and Sarah Snow of This Tree Counts! Click below to hear the discussion.

Alison Formento’s first picture book THIS TREE COUNTS! proves that trees are for more than just climbing. Alison’s next book, THIS TREE, 1, 2, 3 will be released in 2011. She has written several plays, short stories and poetry and was a co-author of the romance/thriller, PANDORA (WeBooks, 2008). With a background in journalism, Alison’s publication credits include, among several others, The New York Times, The Writer and Parenting. She grew up in Arkansas and now lives in New Jersey, and besides enjoying life with her husband and kids and writing everyday, Alison dreams of someday building a spectacular tree house.

Alison donates a portion of her personal proceeds from THIS TREE COUNTS! to to help plant more trees.


Sarah Snow is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. She is a collage artist, who works with combining found papers and acrylic and watercolor.  She grew up in Los Angeles now lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley with her husband and two sons.  Her honors include the Joseph Lefevere Memorial Award for excellence in Illustration,1992 and Second Place Jacket/Cover Award New York Book Show, 1995.

AWC Author Podcast Series: This Tree Counts!

16 thoughts on “AWC Author Podcast Series: This Tree Counts!

    1. ackermanm says:

      Thanks Catherine! We’re glad you enjoyed the podcast. Be sure to let us know how you like the book too.

      1. Katherine E. Corini says:

        Dear Alison Ashley Formento,
        I live i Connecticut and i was wondering do you know that in Simsbury CT there is an old Sycamore tree that is the largest tree in CT? I also am a reader and writer of fantasy books. I even try to illustrate them. I was wondering what authors you read and what genres of books you read? by the way what made you start writing about trees?

  1. Sara Grade 8 says:

    Dear Alison Formento,
    When did you decide you wanted to write stories about going green and saving our earth? What type of books do you like to read yourself?

  2. maegan says:

    Dear Alison

    I was reading your one of your comments and it said that you wrote poetry. I love poetry. My favorite kind of poems are haiku’s. I think haiku’s are the most nature filled poems. I like other kinds of poems but haiku’s are my favorite. What is your favorite kind of poem?

  3. Thanks for all the wonderful questions and comments. Sarah Snow and I had a great time doing this podcast and we’re excited about the March 1, 2011 release of our latest book, THIS TREE, 1, 2, 3. I appreciate your interest in my writing and I’ve done my best to answer your questions below.

    To Katherine Corini: I’ve heard about that Sycamore tree in Connecticut and hope to see it for myself soon. It’s wonderful that you’re writing and illustrating, too. I also enjoy reading fantasy books and all different genres of books. Right now, I’m reading Moon Over Manifest which recently won the 2011 Newbery Award. I’ve always loved treed and was inspired to write THIS TREE COUNTS! by an old, twisted tree that I often walk past when I’m hiking. It’s a special looking tree and I always wondered what would this tree say if it could talk.

    To Sara: I had the opportunity to interview Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize journalist for The New York Times, about green technology. Talking to Mr. Kristof about how we must take care of our world now so we can all enjoy our planet in the future inspired me try helping the planet through my stories.

    To Biff Bifferson: I chose an oak tree because there are so many varieties of oak trees across North America and I wanted a tree where many different creatures might live, like the ones in my story.

    To Spencer Dziedzic: I believe we’re all responsible for taking care of the Earth in any way possible, and we can all do simple things to help, like cleaning up litter and planting trees. Trees not only provide food and shelter, they also help keep our air clean—and of course, I’m inspired by the beauty they give our world, too.
    I haven’t written about my handmodeling experiences yet, but as soon as I’m done working on my latest picture book, I might trying using that in a story.

    Maegan: I love haiku, too. I’m also a great fan of sonnets. I took a class studying Shakespeare and then practiced writing my own sonnets. There are so many poets I love to read, but a few favorites are Langston Hughes, E.E. Cummings, Jack Prelutsky, and Gwendolyn Brooks. I first wrote THIS TREE COUNTS! as a ten line poem and then expanded it into a full story. I find that writing poetry is a great way to inspire new ideas when I’m developing a story.

  4. Dear Alison Formento,
    Do you like writing plays, short stories, or poems better? Do you ever perform in the plays you write? I look forward to you visiting my school.

  5. Dear Alison Ashely Fermento,

    What is your favorite kind of tree and why? Where is your favorite place to write? Do you enjoy reading long novels outside under a tree? I love to read outside on the rock in my yard that is right under the shade of my favorite climbing tree! Finally what are you going to write about next after “These Bees Count”? I can’t wait for you to visit our school!

  6. Did the places you lived in before inspire you too write about trees? Why do you like to write about trees? Is there something about trees you find interesting?

  7. Sara rade 7 says:

    Dear Alison Ashley Formento,
    What is your favorite tree? My favorite tree is a maple tree because I like the maple syrup that you can get from the tree. Have you ever written about clowns and making balloon animals since that was one of your past jobs that you had? Why do you like to write about trees and the outdoors? Besides getting your ideas from the environment and the outdoors where else do you get your ideas? I am excited for when you come to our school to visit.

  8. Dear Alison Formento,
    Do you like going to a certain place to hike? Where do you like to write? I can’t wait for you to visit my school and answer my questions!

  9. Patrick Grade 7 says:

    Dear Alison Formento,
    You will be visiting my school in the near future. I am looking forward to your visit. I have a few questions … Where do you get your ideas for your books? Do you get all of your ideas from nature or do you use other objects? Was it fun to be a queen in the renaissance fair?

  10. Hi everyone! I’m so excited to hear from more students interested in writing and trees. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and I look forward to meeting you when I visit your school.

    Lauren: I enjoy writing in many different genres and plays are something I dearly love to write. I’ve been thinking about developing THIS TREE COUNTS! as a play which would be fun to do for Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations. Do I enjoy writing plays more than stories for books or poetry? That’s hard to answer? It’s similar to eating different kinds of foods. I like trying new things. I learn from every type of writing I do and as I answered someone earlier, writing poetry helps give me new ideas for longer stories. Writing short plays helps me improve my writing of dialogue. So…for now, I’ll keep writing all different genres because that keeps writing fun and fresh for me. I have performed in a few of the plays that I’ve written. I’ll share more about that when I visit your school.

    Matt: I love reading under trees, too! I have a favorite shade tree in my backyard—a Red Oak tree. When the weather is warmer, I sit under that tree almost everyday and read and write. It’s too hard for me to choose one favorite tree because there are so many gorgeous trees in the world. I love the White Oak tree in my story, but I also love the Magnolia trees often found in the deep South. I’ve seen photos of huge Eucalyptus trees in Australia and would love to go there and see those trees in person. I’ve got a few new stories I’m working on now and will share a bit about them when I visit your school. One is about oceans. They count, too!

    Melanie: Trees have inspired me wherever I’ve lived throughout my life. I remember my backyard in Arkansas where I grew up and one of my favorite things to do was climb up in the tree with a book to read. I still love doing that! Trees fascinate me because they are always changing and give so much to our world. And now, for my writing, I find that a good walk through a forest of trees can help inspire me with lots of great story ideas.

    Sara: Matt asked about my favorite tree, too, and there are too many to choose from—I really do love all trees. I do love the pine tree groves that fill many of the forests in Arkansas where I lived as a child and now I enjoy the fabulous maple and oak trees in New Jersey. I love maple syrup, too, and how wonderful that it comes from a tree! Some of my favorite foods come from trees—bananas, pears, coconuts and avocados, too. You just inspired me to write a story about being a clown and making balloon animals. It was such a fun experience! See, I get ideas everywhere–even from reading questions from people like you on this blog.

    Riley: There’s a nature preserve near my house where I like to hike almost everyday. It’s full of lovely trails and there’s always something new to see. Today, I spotted four deer running through the woods. Another sight was a group of wild turkeys all stood in the center of a frozen pond. When it’s warm I like to write under at tree at the nature preserve or in my backyard. I also write in a small office in my house, but I prefer going to my local library because I love visiting the librarians and checking out new books to read.

    Patrick: It was fantastic to portray the queen for a Renaissance Faire. I met so many wonderful people and I love history, so pretending to live in the 1500’s was a great experience.

    Ideas come from everywhere, everyday. Sometimes an idea can come from a dream, picture, music, or just a word that keeps floating in your mind. People and animals can give you ideas, too. I love writing about dogs and cats, but I’ve also written stories about a llama, a whale and an octopus. Gazing up at the night sky has inspired me to write about distant planets and invent all sorts of unique space creatures. A wonderful old twisted tree inspired me to write THIS TREE COUNTS! and I’ll share a photo of that when I visit your school.

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