HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner | Book Review
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner Book Review

Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | April 23, 2017

Over and Under the PondOver and Under the Pond

Written by Kate Messner

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Age Range: 5-8

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books (2017)

ISBN: 978-1452145426

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 Illustration 2

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.

Available Here: 

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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 , , , and

Jen Harrison currently teaches English Composition and Composition Skills at East Stroudsburg University. She completed her PhD in Children's and Victorian Literature at Aberystwyth University in Wales, in the UK. There she also acted as an instructor teaching undergraduate courses on literature and literary theory, as well as further education courses on Children's Literature and Creative Writing. After a brief spell in administration, Jen then trained as a secondary school English teacher, and worked for several years teaching Secondary School English, working independently as a private tutor of English, and working in nursery and primary schools as a substitute teacher. After moving from the UK to the USA in 2016, Jen is very happy to have returned to higher education. Her current research focuses on three primary areas in the field of children’s literature: reader-writer relationships, thing-theory, and the supernatural; she is a reviewer for the International Research Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (IRSCL), as well as the Children's Book Review. Jen also writes an academic blog on Children's Literature, Worrisome Words: http://quantum.esu.edu/faculty/jharrison/. You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.harrison.73594

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