Saturday, June 18, 2016

Over and Under the Snow   
By Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Published: 2011

Awards: 2012 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text, E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Younger Readers Finalist, NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Book for Science, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children & Teens,New York Times Notable Children’s Book,Winter 2011-2012 Kids IndieNext Pick, plus State award picture book nominee in Kansas, Michigan, Virginia, New Hampshire and Illinois.

Over and Under the Snow  is Kate Messner’s first narrative non-fiction published in 2011. She followed it with Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt  in 2015 . Over and Under the Snow gently describes the beautiful, soft, snowy world—as well as fascinating events going on below the surface of the earth when it’s covered in snow.

For older grades, 3-6, Over and Under the Snow would be an excellent mentor for writers trying their hand at the hybrid genre of narrative non-fiction. Conversation between a child and her father who are slowly cross country skiing introduce the reader to the wonders of nature when a winter snow blankets the earth. The girl talks about what she notices ‘over the snow’ and her father talks to her about what is happening ‘under the snow’ with different animals hibernating,collecting food,hiding, etc. Cut-away illustrations give a readers a peek into the underground world. Messner uses an easy pattern of “over the snow’ and ‘under the snow’ on each page that would be a good model for students, if needed.

For younger grades, K-2 , Over and Under the Snow is a great addition to your ‘must-read’ read-aloud pile!

Book Talk
A young girl and her father cross country ski across the countryside after a quiet snow. The girl is fascinated by the beauty that is around her.  As she talks to her father about each wonder that she sees, he adds factual information about the animals as they are under the snow in their burrows-sleeping, hiding, gathering food.

Some favorite lines: 
Over the snow I glide. A full moon lights my path to supper.
Under the snow a chipmunk wakes or a meal. Bedroom, kitchen, hallway—his house under my feet.
Over the now 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.”

In the back of the book, Messner adds an “Author’s Note, as well as additional factual information about each animal mentioned in the book.

Suggested Uses As a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Hybrid Text: Narrative Non-fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies: Search for and Use Information, Maintaining Fluency, Connecting, Questioning, Inferring
Writing Workshop Strategies: Narrative Writing, Informational Writing, Elaboration, Sentence Fluency, Hybrid Text, Inspiring Writers

Kate Messner's website:
Christopher Silas Neal's website:

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