Over and Under the Snow

h1 December 6th, 2011 by jules

“Over the snow I glide. Into woods, frosted fresh and white.”
(Click to enlarge)

Here’s a quick post to celebrate a wintry title I really like. Over and Under the Snow (Chronicle Books, October 2011), written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, is what Kirkus calls “utterly charming, and informative, to boot” and Publishers Weekly calls both “informative” and “evocative.”

In this book, a young girl explores the snowy woods with her father. As they ski, seen above, he tells her all about the various animals that live under the snow after she first spots a red squirrel, “a flash of fur,” and asks where he went. “Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm,” her father tells her. “You’re skiing over them now.”

As they continue on, the young girl notes what is over the snow—rattling beech trees, silent pines, a great horned owl, deep hoof prints, reeds “where tadpoles play tag in springtime,” a full moon lighting her path to supper—as well as what’s under the snow. A chipmunk waits for his meal, a shrew “dodges columns of ice,” a queen bumblebee “drowses away December.”

Messner chooses precise, evocative words. “Clouds whisper down feathery-soft flakes,” she writes in one instance. There are no wasted words, and she draws in the reader with the lyrical way in which she captures the imagery of the scenes laid out in the book. She includes a closing Author’s Note, which notes the science of the subnivean zone, “the network of small open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground,” as well as more facts about the animals featured in the book. Notes on Further Reading are also provided.

The illustrations of illustrator and designer Christopher Silas Neal nearly glow in this tall book. Using mixed media on a cool palette, his illustrations are as brisk as a wintry morning. “Unvarnished pages and an elegant layout enhance the sense of magic in a natural world just out of view,” writes that PW review, describing these as woodcut-like illustrations.

Here are a couple of additional spreads. Enjoy.

“Over the snow I climb, digging in my edges so I don’t slide back down.
Under the snow, voles scratch through slippery tunnels,
searching for morsels from summer feasts.”

(Click to enlarge)

“Over the snow I climb one last hill. Bonfire smoke rises: warm hands, hot cocoa,
hot dogs sizzling on pointed sticks. Under the snow, a black bear snores,
still full of October blueberries and trout.”

(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW. © 2011 by Kate Messner. Illustrations © 2011 by Christopher Silas Neal. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

12 comments to “Over and Under the Snow

  1. I’ve read reviews of this but haven’t seen it yet. I ordered a few copies for my library, though, because this is exactly the kind of stuff children in WNY wonder about in the winter. Reading this made me extra-glad I ordered them. Now if they’d just COME IN already.

  2. I’m starting to read her first novel THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. I think it will be a great read!

  3. Another great looking wintry title! And in your last comment you mentioned a need for a good grown up book… What Alice Forgot (fun and easy), Sisters (fun mystery), The Art of Fielding (in the middle of now), Just Kids (favorite grown up book of the year).

  4. Thanks for such a thoughtful, thorough write-up! I don’t often comment on reviews of my books, but I’m a long time fan of this blog & was just delighted to see Over and Under the Snow featured here, so I had to let you know. Hope you have a sparkling winter!

  5. I truly love this book, the prose is wonderful and the illustrations are beautiful. It reminds me of all of the cross country skiing outings with my family when I was growing up. We don’t live in an area with a lot of snow so I hope this will help my son connect to the area where I grew up.

  6. How lovely, both in words and pictures. The color palette is stunning. I *love* snowy stories! Thanks for sharing this book.

  7. Yes, yes, yes, to all the charmings and informatives! I’m not in a rush to get out my cross country skis, but they, like this book, make me feel happy about winter.

  8. […] sources: Over and Under the Snow, First Day, Over and Under, Snowmen at Night, Winter is the Warmest Season Tagged with: books […]

  9. Simply lovely. A must-have for my library. Thanks for sharing Jules!

  10. Oooooooo…I like these illustrations! I’ll have to take a look at this book. Thanks for this review!

  11. […] the word about this quiet book.  It’s been featured recently on terrific blogs like & 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Chasing Ray, as well as in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune.  I know that I speak for […]

  12. […] source: seven impossible things before breakfast This entry was posted in Library Things and tagged kids books, kids crafts, pre-k books, […]

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