Over and Under the Canyon



BIPOC Characters



Desert Wildlife

Pint-Sized Professor

Interracial Families

Kate Messner & Christopher Silas Neal


People! Of! Color! Enjoying! Nature! This not an unbelievable concept, and I REALLY LOVE how the family within this lovely and educational story is portrayed. The family is interracial, and the mom is the head adventurer, with dad back at camp cooking. The human characters are incidental, and not discussed. We simply join a mother and son on their hike through a desert canyon.

The color palette is beautiful, and Christopher Silas Neal brings his signature style to all of the critters spotted on the epic hike throughout the canyon. I would totally hang up a number of the spreads on my walls, but we all know I’m a fangirl. But seriously, the skies!

I like the way this (and the entire series) gives a narrative to the learning, making it super engaging for readers. There is also lots of additional information in the back matter about all of the animals in the back, with small illustrations of the animals next to their paragraph. This extends the learning nicely, and helps to not bog down the text and turn it into a lecture. Which I would personally love, but I’m a dork.

This book was kindly sent by Chronicle Kids, but all opinions are my own! This book releases tomorrow.

Kate Messner

Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books that encourage kids to wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books like Over and Under the Pond, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Over and Under the PondThe Brilliant Deep, and How to Read a Story; novels that tackle real-world issues like BreakoutAll the Answers, and The Seventh Wish; mysteries and thrillers like Capture the Flag, Eye of the Storm, and Wake Up Missing; the Fergus and Zeke easy reader series; and the popular Ranger in Time chapter book series about a time-traveling search and rescue dog.

Kate’s titles are frequently selected for One School, One Book and One School/One Author programs and other community-wide reads – especially The Seventh Wish, which deals with a family affected by heroin addiction, and Breakout, a novel inspired by a real-world prison break, which takes a look at privilege and perspective. Kate’s books have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. Her novel The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. won the E.B. White Read Aloud Medal, and her science picture books have been finalists for the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences/Subaru SB&F prize for excellence in science writing.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Kate was a TV news reporter as well as an educator who spent fifteen years teaching middle school English. She lives on Lake Champlain with her family and is trying to summit all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines.

Christopher Silas Neal

Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning author and illustrator of picture books including Over and Under the Snow with author Kate Messner, which was praised for its “stunning retro-style illustrations” (New York Times) along with Over and Under The Pond and Up In the Garden and Down in The Dirt. He makes books that feature animals, shapes, science, friendship and silliness, and strives to create diverse and inclusive characters that reflect the kids and parents who read his books. Neal’s author debut titled “Everyone” was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as “simple, honest, lyrical”. His board book series (Animals Colors, Animal Shapes) received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. He speaks about his books, the art making process, and his career at schools, conferences, libraries and book festivals across the country. Neal is a Mexican/Eurpoean-American artist who lives with his wife and two boys in Brooklyn, NY.

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