Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kate Messner is Brilliant!

I read two brand new picture books by Kate Messner this week. Both were such a treat. I am amazed by Kate Messner because her writing is so diverse. She can write so many things well.  These two pictures books are very different and I loved them both for different reasons.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is a companion book to Over and Under the Snow. I remember reading Over and Under the Snow and being fascinated by all that happens in winter that I had never realized.  Kate somehow made really complex science really accessible and interesting. She does the same thing in Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.  This book follows a little girl and her grandmother as they plant a garden in the spring and watch it grow and change through the summer. We watch as the two tend to the garden as the garden's needs change. And we watch the fun of seeing the work pay off as summer continues. At the same time, we learn of all of the things going on in the garden that are not as visible-the things going on in the dirt.  Just as in the first book, Kate alternates between work in the garden and work in the dirt.  There is so much information packed in the book that it is one that begs to be reread.  In the author's note, Kate Messner states, "Every garden is a community garden.  Do you know why?  You may work hard planting seeds and pulling weeds, but plants can't thrive without the help of all those smaller gardeners down in the dirt."  Definitely a book I want in my classroom!

Kate Messner's How to Read a Story is due out in early May but I'd preorder it now!  This is a how to book--and it gives directions for how to read a story. It starts out with Step 1: Find a Story.  A good one.  It is packed with all that is important in reading--finding a reading buddy, finding a cozy spot, using voices that match the characters' voices, and more.  This will make for a fun read aloud but it will also start great conversations about reader identity--what are your tastes as a reader? where do you like to read? etc. A great conversation starter for our reading workshops!

It isn't often I find picture books that are must-haves for all K-5 classrooms but these two seem perfect for all ages.  As I said, Kate Messner is brilliant:-)


  1. She had me at Over and Under the Snow. I'm looking forward to these new reads. We have used Over and Under the Snow to teach second graders about illustrations and Up and Down will be a great companion.

  2. She is brilliant. I completely agree.

  3. Up and Down just arrived at my house this week. It is a beautiful book! I discovered Kate this past summer and I'm so glad I did!


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