9780811867849Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner (Chronicle Books, $16.99) explains that, “Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm”. As Messner states in an Author’s Note, this “secret kingdom” does actually exist and she provides information about the seasonal ecosystem. She provides some scientific information about the different animals that appear in the story: red squirrels, shrews, white-tailed deer, snowshoe hares “famous for their seasonal color change”, beavers, bull-frogs, and bumblebees. Messner also offers a list of further reading, so, although the story is a fictional account of a child cross-country skiing with (her? his? well, it’s winter) father, the information included is accurate. The illustrations display a cross-section of the forest, snow, the “secret kingdom” or the animals’ habitats, and the frozen ground. Despite its picture book format, it is likely to appeal to slightly older children, ages 6-9, who enjoy non-fiction and learning about the environment.

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