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We are pleased to welcome Mary Helen Gensch as a monthly contributor. Mary Helen is an avid reader and passionate about finding craft moves in children’s books. For years she has chronicled books + craft moves on her blog, Book Savors. She also has a knack for finding videos and author websites to help know the story behind the book.

Animal life is all around us. Kate Messnerdescribes the setting of various creatures around and in a pond in her book, Over and Under the PondChristopher Silas Neal illustrates the comparisons of life within a pond and the life that surrounds the pond. The beautiful language pulls you closer, transporting you to warm weather, sunshine, and adventure.
Kate has crafted the book as a compare/contrast nonfiction narrative. A boy and his mother row on the water, noticing their surroundings. Children often share facts as a list with little voice. Kate Messner demonstrates how metaphors lift the information into a more inviting , delightful read. Notice the vivid verbs:

Whirligig beetles loop and twirl – skaters on a warm summer surface.”

Kate adds an Author’s Note in the back and shares the idea for the book came on a canoe trip she enjoyed. This personal account is important for kids. Often times, kids think authors have huge adventures, when they can learn from a nature walk or a boat ride in nature. Ideas are all around them.View this 1 minute book trailer as it highlights the many animals in this special ecosystem.

This text could be use from elementary to high school. With a poetic rhythm and repeating structure, challenge students to be descriptive when sharing facts about their animals. Kate Messner also adds five pages at the end of the book, sharing a paragraph about each creature mentioned in the narrative.

Savorings for reading and writing for Over and Under the Pond:

  • ing verbs – splashing, sweeping

  • metaphors – “water’s a mirror, reflecting the sky!”

  • Sensory Description

  • Beautiful Language

  • Compare/ Contrast structure

  • Environmental – ecosystem, wetlands

  • Author’s Note – a glimpse into how a writer gathers ideas and then creates a book

  • Additional Scientific Information in the back of the book

Kate’s paired text is called Over and Under the Snow.  Preview of the book (4.5 minutes) below as well.

AIbEiAIAAABECOnu0uelx-m83QEiC3ZjYXJkX3Bob3RvKihiZDU0OWY4OWI4MjUyZDA3NzJlYmY0ZjI5YTFlZWViYmMxNzNkZGJlMAEu6CofFl8qu1wPd5_qd1XO1lxLWAMary Helen Gensch is currently a Title I specialist at Pierceton Elementary School (Whitko School Corporation). She was one of the first instructional writing coaches when All-Write originally formed. Her love affair with picture books began by reading Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray.  Katie nudges readers to go to the library and read, immersing themselves in the words. It is Mary Helen’s wish for you to let children catch your passion for reading. Join her in savoring some books as you read-like-a-writer. Find more at Mary Helen’s super-organized blog, Book Savors. Also, follow her on Instagram @BookSavors or Twitter @MHGBooks.


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