Last week, my daughter and I were reading some winter-centric books. She pointed out that all of the them had 'lots and lots of snow' and wondered why we hadn't had any 'real' snow yet. It's amazing how much can change in a week. While this major storm blankets the Northeast I plan to settle in with the kids, read some books and map out our next adventure. Over and Under the Snow might as well be a blueprint for how to spend a perfect snowy day outside.
Call me a bit biased but I am a sucker for almost any book with a competent dad as one of the main characters. The fact that this dad lives somewhere out in the country and enjoys cross-country skiing with his daughter puts it squarely in my wheelhouse.
Over and Under the Snow is a beautifully told account of what it is like to travel through the woods in winter. As the title implies it describes not only the things we experience on top of the snow, such as rattling beech leaves and fresh animal tracks, but the world under the snow that we never get to see: voles and shrews walking along their icy tunnels, bullfrogs and bees slumbering through the coldest months and chipmunks nibbling away at their cache of nuts and seeds. The story captures the joy of a father/daughter ski trip while still managing to include a bit of natural history on every page.
Messner's prose is sweet and spare and at times seems closer to poetry. Her descriptions of a forest in winter are the words of someone who has spent some quality time there herself, and her lessons about the natural world fit into the story easily without seeming forced. I was especially fond of the dad taking advantage of the many teachable moments they encountered, sharing his obvious love of the outdoors in a quiet and endearing way. Neal's illustrations are quirky, delightfully so. He almost always puts the people in the background while the landscape and animals take center stage. Particularly striking are his scenes which take place at night under a full moon.
While it may be hard to think of anything but the shoveling that lies ahead, taking the time to introduce your kids to the world under the snow is a wonderful way to pass the time while the white stuff falls.
Title: Over and Under the Snow
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal
Publisher: Chronicle (2011)
Age group: Three to ten
Best for kids who: love winter, skiing, snow, the natural world
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.