Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books, 2022. 9781797203478

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture books

What did you like about the book? A family paddles their sea kayaks away from a beach, observing sea lions on rocks.  When one dives underwater, Mom begins to tell of the world under the waves – a kelp forest brimming with biodiversity.  The kayakers continue their journey on the surface, watching pelicans and scooping up kelp alongside a mother otter and her pup.  Gulls and other shorebirds soar overhead while varieties of sharks and eels prowl below.  Dad spots whales in the distance, and as they paddle closer they are lucky enough to see them breach.  They begin to head for home as the tide turns, while under the waves an octopus changes color and fish and other creatures adjust to the change in the tide.  Back on shore, the narrator looks for shells while a nearby decorator crab collects seaweed to add to his shell.  The tired narrator soon drifts off to sleep dreaming of  “the secret world under the waves.”

Set in the waters of Monterey Bay in California, this is another outstanding collaboration between Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal.  Messner deftly describes the behaviors of a wide variety of ocean dwellers as well as the movement of the water and the activity of the humans, while Neal shifts perspective and location on each page, with beautiful effectiveness.  An author’s note relates Messner’s inspiration for the locale and shares a bit of insight into her research process.  There is also a glossary of animals, with brief paragraphs of each of the 21 species observed in the book, and a list of books and websites for further reading.

Anything you did not like about the book? No

To whom would you recommend this book? The Over and Under series is great for habitat or ecology units at any elementary grade level.  They are wonderful books to read out loud, and serve as a great jumping off point for research projects.  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Nonfiction: 577.7

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: September 23, 2022

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