Over and Under the Snow

Kate Messner, illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle, $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8118-6784-9
Straddling the informative and the evocative, this lovely study of the ways animals spend the winter in a “secret kingdom under the snow” combines Messner’s (Sea Monster’s First Day) graceful prose (“Over the snow, the fire crackles, and sparks shoot up to the stars. I lick sticky marshmallow from my lips and lean back with heavy eyes”) with debut illustrator Neal’s quiet, woodcut-like portraits of the snowy forest. A human father and daughter are tiny figures in a field of white, cross-country skiing past fir trees and glimpsing the occasional animal, while other creatures are visible in cutaway views below ground (“Under the snow, a queen bumblebee drowses away December, all alone. She’ll rule a new colony in spring”). The rhythm of the girl’s discoveries balances thoughtful discovery with moments of muted excitement, as when she skis downhill, then watches a fox pounce on a mouse (“His paws scratch away to find the mouse he heard scritch-scritch-scratching along underneath”). Unvarnished pages and an elegant layout enhance the sense of magic in a natural world just out of view. Includes an afterword and bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 44 pages - 978-1-4521-3646-2
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4521-2398-1
Hardcover - 44 pages - 978-7-5133-1360-5
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