Naturalist Suzy's Book Pick: 'Over and Under the Snow'

“Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm. You’re skiing over them now.”

“Over and Under the Snow” by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal (Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

“Over and Under the Snow” answers the question, “Where do all the animals go in the winter?” Readers will follow a girl skiing with her father, discovering animals and signs of animals. Some animals are over the snow like a hooting great horned owl or a fox leaping in the snow. Other animals are deep underneath, sleeping in cozy homes. Young readers will love trying to find all of the animals on the page. What is also great is that it covers all types of animals including fluffy mammals, sleeping frogs and even a queen bumblebee. Parents will most likely even learn a new animal fact!


While discovering each animal, readers will be inspired to recreate winter activities with their families. The story moves through cross-country skiing as our father-daughter team run into tracks to follow and owls to listen to. They roast marshmallows over a bonfire, catch snowflakes and stargaze at night. These activities would be great to recreate with the whole family in the backyard or at a local forest preserve.


The last few pages of the book are what the naturalist in me loves. The author breaks down the “secret kingdom under the snow,” explaining the more complex term of a subnivean zone. This zone refers to the tunnels and holes between the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. “The animals you met in this book really do eat, sleep, hide, and play over and under the winter snow.”


There is also a list of the animals and a short description of what they are or an extra fact that connects readers to the real animals in our habitats. Many kids know about sloths and tigers but shrews, bullfrogs and foxes can be just as cool. Plus as an extra bonus, there is a list of other reading if your readers need to research this topic further.