Two quokkas, two snails, one strawberry patch . . .
Suzy and Sam Snail live in the Land of Sadness, constantly working hard to feel loved. But their gloomy lives just might change when they meet two friendly quokkas who tell them all about the Creator and what life is like in the Land of Happiness. Will the Snails remain sad and empty? Or will they eagerly journey to a new land where grace, joy, and contentment grow instead?
Join these four quirky friends in the strawberry patch, and let this parable-style story offer your family a powerful conversation starter and a celebration of God’s gift of grace.
The Quokkas, the Snails, and the Land of Happiness Activity Journaldownload
What inspired you to write this book?
When Eden (Evie’s sister) was younger, some classmates and friends had sticker charts. We tried them for a few days but quickly learned that Eden was obeying to get a sticker instead of obeying because she was already approved. It was the opposite of how we teach her, which is to obey because Christ already loves her and to obey us because she is already our child, not to try and earn our favor. We ditched the sticker chart idea, and just as I was about to throw the chart in the trash, I decided to fill the chart with stickers and see Eden’s reaction the next morning. The next morning Eden saw her chart filled, and we used that moment as a time to teach her that “this is what God does for us. We still obey him and do the right things, but we do so because our sticker chart is already full.” It became an illustration we talked about a lot with our daughters. Evie loves stories, so we created this story to help tell the illustration more vividly for ourselves and for others.
For whom did you write this book?
For kids who struggle with trying to be approved, wondering if they have done enough for people to accept them and enough for God to love them—which has been all of us! It’s also written for kids’ parents and caregivers.
The book features some quirky characters (a lot of people haven’t even heard of quokkas)! What led you to choose quokkas and snails?
We wanted to contrast the two ways to live. While life is never perfect here, it can be joyful. Quokkas are known as the happiest animals on earth, so they are perfect to capture the joy of knowing your chart is already filled. Snails are like many of us. We can live thinking we are accomplishing a lot, but often we are just barely moving through life.
How have you both personally dealt with the pressure to perform or earn acceptance? What has helped you to rest in God’s grace?
We both struggle with this, and we don’t think we are the only ones. What helps us rest in God’s grace is preaching this message to ourselves over and over again. It is the message we constantly need.
Eric, having authored and co-authored several books, how was this book different writing it with your daughter, Evie?
I love all the people I have written with. They are all friends and people I deeply respect and enjoy being with, but the process with Evie was much more fun. I did not write a single word without her. We did every single line together and spent almost a year writing the story. I loved the process because it caused us to have so many great conversations about grace, approval and what is important in life. With all due respect to my other co-authors, I enjoyed the experience with Evie the most.
How does this book serve as a conversation starter for families about the topic of grace?
Kids feel more pressure now than ever before. They feel the constant need to perform, to accomplish and to prove themselves. Anxiety is hitting kids at a much younger age than previous generations. We live in a tired world. So, the image of the sticker chart resonates with every family we have talked to about the book. And knowing that there is one who accepts us fully because he has already given us his perfection is so liberating.
Walk us through the sticker chart that you mentioned in the book. How did you come up with it and what purpose does it serve? Does your family use sticker charts?
We do not use them, but maybe they work for others. For us, we wanted to constantly remind Eden and Evie that they obey because they are loved, not so they will be loved.
In today’s competitive world that defines happiness differently, why is it necessary for kids to hear this message of grace?
Our culture is built around achieving. The message of Jesus and the Christian faith is built around receiving. When we receive, we are actually free to work hard, to accomplish, to excel at things we enjoy and to do what is right. But we live not to be approved but because we already are. We are more free and confident because our worth and identity are already secure.
What do you hope young readers will take away from this book?
Jesus has given me all the stickers.