Thursday, December 1, 2011

Over and Under the Snow

Title: Over and Under the Snow     
Author: Kate Messner   
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal  
Publisher: Chronicle Books 
Publication Date: 2011 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
Summary: A girl skiing with her father discovers the magical world snuggled up under the snow. 
What I Think: I don't claim to know everything but I'm still astounded by how much I learn every day from books that I read. I live in a place that suffers from enjoys winter and lots of snow every year but I never really grasped what happens to animals in the winter. I know it's silly but I never officially thought about it that much! And that is what makes book like this so entirely awesome. The illustrations and the text give readers a look at what's happening under the snow.
     When I was young, I remember waking up after a big snow, getting my snow gear on, and venturing out for walks with my family. I grew up in a suburb north of Chicago but we lived on an old non-working farm. It was kind of a hidden world away from the busy streets only a half-mile up our driveway. Those snowy mornings were usually so still and calm. Kate Messner captures this sense of  tranquility of winter over and under the snow with poetic prose.
     What I love about this book, and other fiction picture books that incorporate non-fiction subjects, is that it can be read aloud with children and then it leads to so much more reading and investigation. I have strived to read more non-fiction this year and have found that non-fiction books that read like fiction are much more attention-grabbing to me than more typical expository books with photographs and text features. I like those books after my interest is piqued with a book like Over and Under the Snow.
     Because I work with students who are deaf and hard of hearing and sometimes learning English as a second language, I'm always conscious of books that can help me build my students' background knowledge. This book will give me a perfect opportunity to show students what skiing is and the difference between downhill and cross-country skiing. For those of you who don't get to experience the horror wonder of snow, this would definitely be a perfect chance to give students a glimpse of winter and snow - I think they would marvel at the idea of the animals cozy under the snow.
     In case you are looking for resources to pair with this book, Kate Messner includes a list of books for further reading at the back of the book. Bonus!
Read Together: Pre-K - 12 
Read Alone: 3 - 12 
Read With: Deep In the Swamp by Donna M. Bateman, Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest and What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins, Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper, Non-Fiction reading about the subnivean zone
Snatch of Text: 
"'Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, 
where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm.'" 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Mood, Alliteration, Personal Narrative, Descriptive 
Writing Prompts: Think of a time when you stopped to notice nature, use your five senses to describe this experience and capture the mood of the experience. 
Topics Covered: Family, Nature, Questioning, Integration - Science, Winter, Animals, Hibernation

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