Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book talk: Over and Under the Snow (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2013-2014)

I want you to pretend that it’s winter, and you’re looking at a white field, completely covered with snow. It’s quiet and peaceful, and there seem to be no animals around. The scene is like a blank sheet of paper.

But there’s an entire secret kingdom under the snow that you can’t see and you can’t hear. This secret kingdom is called the subnivean zone, and it’s a network of small spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground. It’s a small zone but it’s enough to keep a host of animals alive and hidden from your sight.

 If you were a red fox, though, you’d actually be able to hear the sounds of scampering mice under the snow. If you can hear them, you can catch them, fox.

If you were a small vole, you’d use that subnivean zone to slip through tunnels, searching for food, bits of old plants or roots in the ground.

If you were a black bear, the snow wouldn’t bother you: you’d be asleep in a hollowed out tree, or under a log or rock, or even in a cave.

This is a beautiful portrait of an invisible, secret winter kingdom.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal. Virginia Readers' Choice, 2013-2014. Unpaged. Informative author’s note in the back. Chronicle Books, 2011. Booktalk to primary grades.

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