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To Plant a Seed, written and illustrated by Lilian Snider '23, is published by Wheatmark. Author photo: Mackenzie McCormick '24

After year-long journey, student author-illustrator publishes book and earns spot at book festival

By Mackenzie McCormick ‘24

Senior Lilian Snider completed her year-long journey of developing her new children’s book, To Plant a Seed. She had the opportunity to complete a full piece of writing in her second semester Creative Writing course, so she thought, "Why not?" Two words that resulted in the creation of illustrations and writing for a children's book.

As Lily started an internship with Castle Hill School last February, she was able to see how the children liked “big pictures with lots of colors” and wanted to create a book that piqued their interest. Snider took an approach that prioritized what her audience wanted, rather than what she guessed they may like. 

A large focus for Lily was perspective, because she felt that “perspective is what keeps kids interested.” She explained that talking trees or talking clouds “amuse kids enough to care.” Lily settled on a cloud of slumber as a means of demonstrating how acts of kindness spread like a seed. Her hope is to demonstrate that "kindness is interchangeable" and "applies to the environment." 

Lily formed these themes and plots in watercolor, a very new medium for her. She primarily works in charcoal or acrylic paint, focusing on hyperrealism, the polar opposite of the “cartoony style” shown in her book. She was inspired by Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury, which captures a “beautiful combination of watercolor and ink.”

Learning where to begin is a large deterrent to publishing a book. Lily initially contacted Amazon Direct Self-Publishing, but learned they were “limited in layout” and would’ve omitted elements of her design. Eventually, she discovered a local publisher called Wheatmark, and now To Plant a Seed is ready to buy. 

As a high school senior, Lily owns full copyright to To Plant a Seed. She will be participating in the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend. Please look for her on March 4th from 2:30-4:00 pm, in Booth 211. Lillian Grace Snider, as her grandfather predicted at birth, “sounds like an author's name.” Visit to buy Lily's debut novel.