Definition of WONDER
1a : a cause of astonishment or admiration : marvel <it’s a wonder you weren’t killed> <the pyramid is a wonder to behold> b : miracle2: the quality of exciting amazed admiration
a : rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
Perhaps it’s because I want to experience life with the same amazement and awe my daughter has when she delights in something new or fascinating that I am drawn to a new book by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal. Their book, Over and Under the Snow, is a delightful picture book perfect for this time of the year. While you and I can see and delight in what we see over the snow, we usually don’t give much thought to what happens under the layers of snow that blanket much of this country during the wintertime. This book invites readers to wonder about what lies beneath the snow while picturing what life might be like down there.
The book follows the adventure of a boy and his father who ski over the snow. While they’re skiing they notice a red squirrel disappear down a crack under the snow. From that point on, the book details the father and son’s journey over the snow while delighting readers with all of the things that are simultaneously happening under the snow. Readers quickly learn about a whole other fascinating world that lies underneath the white snow that covers the ground. Here’s a peek at a couple of the interior spreads so you can see the “over the snow” and “under the snow” pattern in which the book is written:
As a teacher of writing, there are many uses for this book. First, if your students are writing books with predictable patterns, then you can mentor them after Messner’s “over the snow” and “under the snow” pattern which is seen on nearly all of the book’s (just not the first two or the final two) pages. Second, there are text features, such as italics, boldface, and print that doesn’t always fall in a straight line (see first page spread above). For instance, the word “leaps” (not pictured above) is written in larger font on one of the pages. The text of the word “leaps” is arranged in a way that makes it look like the word is jumping over something. If you want to encourage your students to play with the physical way they place their words on the page, then this book is sure to become their mentor. Third, the book contains rich tier two vocabulary, which will encourage young writers to stretch themselves in their own writing after they examine the prose in this book.
Finally, the author’s note offers an explanation for what happens under the snow and introduces readers to the animals they meet in the book. There’s also a short book list that points readers to other titles where they can learn more about animals in the winter.
- A special thank you to Chronicle Books for sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Over and Under the Snow for one of our readers who resides in the U.S.A. or Canada.
- To win a copy of the book please leave a comment about this post, in the comments section of this post by Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST. A random drawing will take place on Sunday, January 8th and the winner’s name will be announced in a blog post later that day.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Chronicle send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).