HMH Books & Media Acquires Memoir from Trailblazing Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate

NEW YORK — Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media announced today it will publish Vanessa Nakate’s A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis, a rousing manifesto and memoir about climate justice from the Ugandan climate activist, on Nov. 2, 2021.

In January 2020, while striking at Davos, Nakate posed for a photo with four white European activists, including Greta Thunberg. The Associated Press ran the image – with Nakate cropped out. The ensuing outrage propelled Nakate to global attention.

Nakate addresses this incident, and how it’s indicative of a larger problem in the movement for climate justice, in A Bigger Picture.

“The cropping had made it possible to believe that African climate activists were absent from Davos; that Africans weren’t active in the climate change movement; and that there wasn’t a global youth climate movement that included people like me and many others in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” she said.

In A Bigger Picture, Nakate explains why it is imperative that the fight against climate change includes the voices of people of color and those living in the Global South, communities that are often the least responsible for climate change yet the most likely to suffer its extreme consequences. Her galvanizing debut connects the societal critiques of movements like Black Lives Matter to the climate crisis, showing how climate change is also a race, class, and education issue.

“It is important for people to understand the intersection of climate change, racial justice, social justice and sustainable development goals,” Nakate said. “If we want climate justice, then everyone must be involved in the process.”

​At just 24 years old, Nakate has already made an indelible mark on the movement for climate justice. A Bigger Picture shows how this shy girl from Kampala became the first climate striker in Uganda when she noticed the effects of climate change on the African continent were being completely ignored on the global stage. She founded the Rise Up Climate Movement, now known as the Ponya Earth Foundation, and the Green Schools Project, which aims to put solar panels on Uganda’s 24,000 schools. She is also leading a campaign to raise awareness of the destruction of the Congo Basin Rainforest Ecosystem. In 2020, MIPAD named her one of the one hundred most influential people of African descent, she was chosen as one of BBC’s 100 Women, and she was named a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals.

HMH Books & Media senior editor Rakia Clark bought North American rights at auction from Zoë Pagnamenta of The Zoë Pagnamenta Agency acting on behalf of Carrie Plitt at Felicity Bryan Associates in the UK. A Bigger Picture is set to publish November 2021 to tie in with Nakate’s planned attendance at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow.

“I couldn’t be more excited or proud to help bring Vanessa Nakate’s incredible, world-changing activism to the HMH list,” Clark said. “She’s emerged as one of the most important and critical voices on climate justice and race. I can’t wait for American audiences to get more familiar with her work — and to be inspired to take action.”

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media
For nearly two centuries, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has published some of the world's most renowned novels, nonfiction, children's books, and reference works. As part of a leading global learning company, it is uniquely positioned to offer educational and entertaining content for all audiences. Its distinguished author list includes eleven Nobel Prize winners, forty-eight Pulitzer Prize winners, fifteen National Book Award winners, and more than one hundred Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients. Current and recent authors include Tim O'Brien, Natasha Trethewey, Paul Theroux, Alison Bechdel, Adam Hochschild, Tim Ferriss and a celebrated roster of children's authors and illustrators including Kwame Alexander, Lois Lowry, and Chris Van Allsburg. HMH is also home to The Best American series® The Whole30®, Weber Grill, How to Cook Everything®, and other leading lifestyle properties; books by J.R.R. Tolkien; and many iconic children's books and characters, including Curious George®, The Little Prince, and The Polar Express. HMH Productions develops and produces media and licensed products related to brands such as Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail. HMH Audio, publishes audio books of HMH front list and backlist titles.


Lori Glazer

SVP, Executive Director of Publicity

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt