Dec 7, 2011
Over and Under the Snow
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Art by Christopher Silas Neal
Published by Chronicle Books
On a winter day, as you venture deep into the woods to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, you can hear the crunch of the snow beneath your feet. You might see a deer or a red squirrel and everything seems quiet and still. But "under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm." There are little tunnels where tiny shrews hide from predators, where voles looks for food, and fat bullfrogs snooze. Under the snow a bear sleeps with its belly still full of berries and trouts from the fall, and a queen bee "drowses away December, all alone."
It's hard to write about Over and Under the Snow without wanting to just quote the whole book. It's that good! Its beautiful language quietly flows from page to page, with a lyrical tone mirrored by the beautiful art created by Silas Neal. The images created by Messner's text place us inside the snowy forest, along for the ride with the father and daughter exploring the wonders of nature on a winter's day. And at the end, we can feel the slumber brought on by the trek, and "lean back with heavy eyes", enjoying a roasted marshmallow as the fire makes the "shadows dance in the flames."
Over and Under the Snow will open readers' eyes to the world of wonders that nature offers every winter. I doubt I'll ever walk through the woods of the Hudson Valley and not think about all that's hidden under the snow. At the end of the book, Messner has added a detailed explanation of the facts included in the book, with descriptions of each animal from the tale (as well as other resources to explore).
What a quiet gem! Simply beautiful.