The Children’s Book Review | April 23, 2017
Written by Kate Messner
Age Range: 5-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (2017)
What to Expect: Nature, Sensory Detail, Glossary
There is a lot to see out and about on the water – but you have to know where to look. Above the pond, the narrator and his mother slip quietly over the water in their paddling boat, enjoying the calm day and the many sights around them. Turtles sit sunning themselves on a log, a moose eats water lilies, a blue heron fished. Below the water is a hive of activity and life: a caddisfly builds a nest, beavers dive for roots to eat, while the heron “catches a wiggling, quicksilver minnow from where it was hiding, under the pond.” As the day rambles on the sky turns from blue, to pink, to deep night purple: it’s time for the narrator and his mother to head for home.
Over and Under the Pond is a non-fiction book with the light, poetic feel of a story. Although it is pitched towards 5-8 year-olds, the simple language, narrative style, and sensory detail also make it an ideal introduction to natural history for younger children as well. Kate Messner uses sound particularly effectively throughout the volume, with alliteration which begs young readers to wrap their tongues around the sentences, and phrases such as “splash – gurgle – sploosh” designed to keep even pre-readers engaged. The illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal are calming and serene, with enough detail to make distinct species identifiable without degenerating to photographic perfection. Best of all, the narrative is followed by a glossary in which the readers can learn more about the animals in the book, including whirligig beetles, red-winged blackbirds, and river otters.
Overall, this is a beautiful book, offering an accessible and engaging introduction to natural history and guaranteed to encourage a new generation of natural scientists.
About Kate Messner
Kate Messner is the award-winning author of more than a dozen other books for young readers, including Over and Under the Snow, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, and How to Read a Story. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time outside. Kate lives in New York with her family.
About Christopher Silas Neal
Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning illustrator. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times and shows his art at various galleries nationwide. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn and teaches at Pratt Institute.
Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Over and Under the Pond by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Christopher Silas Neal, Kate Messner, Natural History Books, and Nature Studies.