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Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal

Cover to Over and Under the Pond

A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”

So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.

And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.

Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.

For families who want to know more about the animals mentioned, the author has included thumbnail descriptions of them at the back of the book, as well as mentioning helpful websites and books.

Christopher Silas Neal’s dreamy illustrations are a perfect match to the text. The sometimes simple lines and shapes of the animals and their habitats have a soothing liquidity, and the colors, too, are rich and naturalistic.

This selection supports our Grow a Reader principles of Vocabulary and Narrative Skills. It might also be used to support a STEM curriculum.