Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-10-03
- Reviewer: Staff
Straddling the informative and the evocative, this lovely study of the ways animals spend the winter in a “secret kingdom under the snow” combines Messner’s (Sea Monster’s First Day) graceful prose (“Over the snow, the fire crackles, and sparks shoot up to the stars. I lick sticky marshmallow from my lips and lean back with heavy eyes”) with debut illustrator Neal’s quiet, woodcut-like portraits of the snowy forest. A human father and daughter are tiny figures in a field of white, cross-country skiing past fir trees and glimpsing the occasional animal, while other creatures are visible in cutaway views below ground (“Under the snow, a queen bumblebee drowses away December, all alone. She’ll rule a new colony in spring”). The rhythm of the girl’s discoveries balances thoughtful discovery with moments of muted excitement, as when she skis downhill, then watches a fox pounce on a mouse (“His paws scratch away to find the mouse he heard scritch-scritch-scratching along underneath”). Unvarnished pages and an elegant layout enhance the sense of magic in a natural world just out of view. Includes an afterword and bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)