Author Chat with Gianna Marino (The Outside), Plus Giveaway~ US ONLY!

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Gianna Marino!

Read on to learn more about the author, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Gianna Marino

Gianna Marino was born in San Francisco and spent her early years galloping horses through Golden Gate Park. Her explorations expanded to some of the farthest places she could find, including Ethiopia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan, and many small villages in faraway mountains. When not wandering the great OUTSIDE, Gianna writes and illustrates full-time from her home in Colorado, where prairie dogs peek from their burrows. Gianna has written and illustrated many highly acclaimed picture books, including Night Animals, Too Tall Houses, and Don’t Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton. You can visit Gianna Marino at or follow her on Instagram @GiannaMarinoBooks and on Facebook at

Website * Instagram * Facebook




About the Book: The Outside

New York Times bestselling illustrator Gianna Marino helps little ones find their courage to face their fears and explore the world around them.


Earl likes the inside and likes feeling safe. He also likes his friends to be safe and is quick to point out the many dangers of the outside, where his friends are determined to explore. No matter how hard they try to convince Earl to come outside to play, he won’t change his mind.

But…what if Earl needs to go outside? What will it take for his friends to convince him? What will it take for Earl to feel safe on the outside?

In this stunningly illustrated book about friendship, facing your fears, and finding the courage to push past what’s comfortable, Gianna Marino once again uses endearing animals to give young readers a voice.




~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

Several years ago, I was working on a book at an artist residency in Wyoming, in the middle of nowhere. I small rabbit lived under my porch. He popped out just long enough to nibble grass and look nervously about. At the sight of me or a hawk or anything larger than itself, the little guy ran back under the porch for safety. I named him Earl and wondered what it would be like to be so worried all the time. I thought if Earl had more friends to support him, he might be brave enough to explore the outside. A few years later, when I moved to Colorado, I saw prairie dogs doing the same thing. When I researched how the critters built elaborate prairie dog towns and had such strong social networks, I thought they would be the perfect characters to tell the story of overcoming fears with the help of friends. What, I wondered, would be a good way to get Earl to The Outside?

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

There is really only one main named character in The Outside, and that is Earl. He represents all of us, because every single person has some kind of fear. I hope children can relate to him, with his courage to explore what he is afraid of and his eventual trust of friends to help him face the OUTSIDE!

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I love the scene when all of the prairie dogs are coming out of the burrow, into the sun. The friends are all circled around Earl, protecting him and supporting him. They are telling Earl, “We will keep watch…”, “…and protect you.” “Just like you protected us.” There is no teasing or trickery. The friends have finally realized that Earl had saved their lives by building a flood room, and also that Earl had fears they could help him overcome with love and support.

YABC:  What came first, the concept, landscape, characters, or something else?

All of my books sort of evolve with a back and forth of idea, text, scribbles, text, another idea, etc. I knew this book would be a balance of the darkness and safety of the burrow, but also the brightness and beauty of the outside. I wanted Earl to stand out as different from the others and decided to make his fur color a bit pale and his “voice” that of concern and worry for his friends. Some of the dangers I left for the reader to discover (the coyote in the bushes and the silhouette of the eagle).


YABC: If you could only write one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I would write picture books! I love to tell stories with pictures and words and the age group reading/listening to picture books is so open and curious. I love speaking to that audience. They have an easy time diving deep into the pictures and into a character’s feelings.

YABC:   What can readers expect to find in your books?

I love to use animals to tell stories that children can relate to. From fear of the dark, missing a loved one, wanting to be like a sibling, imagining a horse in their life, etc. Animals have so many shapes and sizes, colors and characteristics, it is a joy to take their instincts or behaviors and relate those to what a child might feel. For instance, in Meet Me at the Moon, I used elephants, with their strong family bonds and memories, to help a child remember all of the love they felt from the past to keep that love in their lives, even when the parent is gone. In Just Like My Brother, I used a young giraffe to show her desire to be like her big brother, because he was, in fact, quite a bit taller! In Night Animals, I used nocturnal animals, who are afraid of the dark, to show that what we might be afraid of, might also be afraid of us. One of my favorites is Too Tall Houses, which tells the stories of two VERY unlikely friends, Owl and Rabbit (owls EAT rabbits!), how they found a friendship in working together to rebuild their lives.

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

While sometimes it IS procrastinating, part of the creative mind is to get away from the project for a bit and let it simmer and cook. Stepping away from the desk to pull some weeds, clean the kitchen or walk the dog are all activities that allow the mind to stop the focus and allow the unconscious mind to figure out the details that are not working. On the other hand, sometimes sitting butt-in-chair is impossible and the kicking and squirming that comes with it is true procrastination!

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

In January, I Love You, Little Horse comes out. This book was inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day. The last line has always made me appreciate the present;

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”I Love You, Little Horse is the story of a young foal, whose elder is asking how it will spend this beautiful day.

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add?

I appreciate you taking the time for this interview! As I always tell the children I am reading to, it is a pleasure to share a bit of the “behind the scenes” and talk about the process of making a picture book!



Title: The Outside

Author: Gianna Marino

Release Date: 6/04/2024

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers; Viking Books for Young Readers

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Age Range: 4-8 years




~ Giveaway Details ~


One (1) winner will receive a copy of The Outside (Gianna Marino) ~US Only!


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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3 thoughts on “Author Chat with Gianna Marino (The Outside), Plus Giveaway~ US ONLY!”

  1. astromgren says:

    What an interesting read!

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