OVER AND UNDER THE CANYON
By: Kate Messner
Illustrated by: Christopher Silas Neal
Published: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
A boy and his mom set off on a hike through the canyon and reveal spectacular views, tiring climbs up and down rocks, and visions of plants and wildlife all along the way.
Kate Messner was inspired to write this story after a camping trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California with her family in 2007. Between the flat areas of the canyon to the deep valleys and crevices of the rocks, there is a whole ecosystem that relies on each other every day. On the hike in the story, the young boy sees hawks and eagles, bighorn sheep and mule deer, a tarantula, and a gecko. He even spies a roadrunner having a red diamond rattlesnake for lunch.
The illustrations are quite beautiful and make me long for a trip to the desert. I had no idea the desert canyon could be so beautiful and colorful including wildflowers, desert lilies, and poppies that grow right in the sand. Each of the plants and various wildlife that grow and live in the desert canyon is critical to the survival of the ecosystem. Plus, there are just as many unique signs of life during the night in the desert. My favorite page was the thousands of stars that fill the night sky. I could almost hear the chatter of the birds and insects on the page.
The end of the book includes bios on all the animals and plants mentioned in the book. There were several that I hadn’t even heard of including Kangaroo Rats and Antelope Squirrels. This book will inspire families to explore their own area and learn about the animals and plants that are part of their own ecosystem and maybe set a goal for traveling to a desert canyon too. I know I want to visit one.
Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books that encourage kids to wonder, too. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her family. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time outside, cross-country skiing, hiking, swimming, and digging in her gardens. For more, check out her website, HERE.
Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning author and illustrator of a number of picture books. 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. 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.