Over and Under the Snow (Over and Under)

by Kate Messner (Author) Christopher Silas Neal (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Over and Under
Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow exists a secret kingdom of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals that live through the winter safe and warm, awake and busy, under the snow. Discover the wonder and activity that lies beneath winter's snowy landscape in this magical book.
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Kirkus Reviews

Utterly charming, and informative, to boot.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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.)

Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--A girl spends the day with her father skiing through the woods. As they proceed through the wintry landscape, he tells her about the secret kingdom of animals under the snow. He explains how a red squirrel and shrew move through cracks and tunnels, and how deer mice stay warm in their nests by covering themselves with feathers and fur. When the sky is light, the voles, beavers, and chipmunks gather food to eat, but as the sky grows darker, the queen bumblebee, bullfrogs, and black bear are shown sleeping in enclosures under the snow. Aboveground, the child and her dad are joined by the mom and have a bonfire, complete with cocoa and hot dogs sizzling on pointed sticks, before going to bed to dream about the secret kingdom under the snow. Throughout the book, Neal's crisp, clean mixed-media illustrations cleverly provide above- and belowground views, and Messner's back material will educate children about the subnivean zone and animal adaptations. Some of the uses for snow (entertainment, warmth, camouflage, shelter) can be discussed after reading this book.--Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Kate Messner

Kate Messner is a New York Times-bestselling author of multiple children's books, among them Over and Under the Pond, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, The Brilliant Deep, and How to Read a Story. Before becoming a full-time writer, Kate was a TV news reporter as well as an educator who spent fifteen years teaching middle school English. These days, she splits her time between Lake Champlain and southwest Florida and is trying to summit all forty-six Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines.

MacKenzie Haley is an illustrator, runner, and cat lover who currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky. Her books include The Ninja Club Sleepover, Pega Sisters Go to Camp, and Funny Little Ghost. She has currently reached the maximum amount of cat shirts a grown woman is allowed to have, and is banned from buying any more (but can accept them as gifts).

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Chronicle Books
Publication date
October 20, 2011
Over and Under
BISAC categories
JUV002000 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | General
Library of Congress categories
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2012 - 2012
Golden Kite
Winner 2012 - 2012
E.B. White Read Aloud Award
Finalist 2012 - 2012
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Nominee 2014 - 2014
Keystone to Reading Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2013
Ladybug Picture Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2013

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