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Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

(Over and Under)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,467 ratings  ·  243 reviews
In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt.

Explore the secret world beneath the dirt that brings the world of nature to life: Up in the garden, the world is full of greenleaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit.
Hardcover, 52 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Chronicle Books (first published February 24th 2015)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  1,467 ratings  ·  243 reviews

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Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kids; Parents
Recommended to Carmen by: New York Times Book Review
Up in the garden, I stand and plan - my hands full of seeds and my head full of dreams.

I have a lot to say about this book.

It is about a girl (7 or 8) who gardens with her grandma.

This is the loose "sequel" to Over and Under the Snow. This is much more "gross" and "creepy-crawly" because it focuses mainly on insects and spiders; unlike Over and Under the Snow which had lots of cuddly and cute mammals.

The words are wonderful and I think the beautiful story explains gardening in a poetic way.

First and foremost, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt represents a both textual and visual celebration of gardening (and how engaging in the latter as a team cements a strong and sweet teacher/mentor relationship and bond between Nana and her young granddaughter), as well as and for me absolutely most importantly a wonderful demonstration by author Kate Messner of how the natural fauna in or near a garden often helps gardeners and yes indeed, that insects, worms etc. are not all and sundry ...more
Carol Royce Owen
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you don't already have Over and Under the Snow - what are you waiting for? And now as you are ordering that, there will likely be a suggestion to order Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt as well. Do it. These two books are great additions to the 1st-4th grade classrooms, rich with details about the animals/insects mentioned. In this book a young girl is eager to start her garden, but learns that there is much that goes on underneath the ground for the soil to be prepared for growing. In ...more
Lovely mixed media illustrations highlight the pleasures of gardening, revealing the passage of time and all the activities that are occurring beneath the surface of the soil. From checking the soil for its readiness for planting to planting seeds and plants to harvesting them and then on to the winter again, readers will surely enjoy observing as "a whole new garden sleeps down in the dirt" (unpaged). Anticipating each phase in the growing season adds to the delights of examining this book as ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A educational way to learn about gardening, plants, the bugs in the yard, and birds!
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A delightful paring of descriptions of gardening by humans and insects etc who work below the dirt with their own preparations while the humans work above (and even play with hoses). The illustrations are rich in color and content, lots of browns and greens, close-ups of plants, animals and humans. Very engaging. Back matter gives details about all of the bugs, etc that are described and the final end pages illustrate flowers while the opening ones illustrate vegetables. Lots included here in a ...more
Mid-Continent Public Library
Young readers can learn all about the plants that grow in a garden and all the creatures that dwell below the soil. Detailed illustrations will have children coming back again and again. Enjoy this one now by checking out a copy on or searching for it on Overdrive! - Reviewed by Stephanie at MCPL Reading Rocket
La Coccinelle
This, the second book in the Over and Under series by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal, isn't as strong as the first. I found it too wordy, and yet somehow not as informative. Like Over and Under the Snow, this book also features endnotes, but they didn't seem as engaging. (Maybe I'm just not a fan of insects; that's the main focus of this book.)

The illustrations didn't impress me, either. I expected them to be similar to those in Over and Under the Snow, and I guess they were to a
The Library Lady
Yo--Caldecott dopes!
THIS is the sort of book that should be getting the Medal.
It's not trendy--it's a fabulous, non-fiction picture book with enough story to make it readable.
And ART! Have you folks noted that your award is for ART?
Incredible, detailed art by an award winning illustrator who knows his stuff.

P.S. The "further reading" books in the back? You and yours should take a look at those too. They're also books by people your committee never seems to notice.

But then, in the immortal words
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A gardening story told from two perspectives: below the ground and above the ground.

Back matter includes an author's note, further reading list, and brief paragraphs of information about all of the creatures that appeared in the book.

The mixed media illustrations give readers plenty to discover and do a great job of inspiring interest in outdoor exploration, digging in the dirt etc.

Highly recommended for use with PreK-2, especially in daycare and preschool classrooms and as a book to supplement
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although I'm generally not a big fan of the dark, muted color schemes and 70's-style illustrations that seem to be trending right now, this was a very clever treatment of the typical "gardening" theme. There was a nice, lyrical flow to the language and a ton of great information to be found in this non-fiction title. Too complex for toddlers, but might be fun to share with older preschoolers and young elementary grades.
Ever wonder what happens underground when a garden is just stirring to life in the spring, or bedding down for the winter? Kate Messner's interesting picture book explores plant and animal life that we don't even see or suspect, all the things that insects do to keep the earth healthy, aerated, and fertilized. Will fascinate young reader-gardeners "up in the garden" who have no idea what's going on in the world "down in the dirt."
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to begin. This is so much more than meets the eye at first glance. The illustrations, the story, the time lapse, the beautiful descriptive words, the love that emits from the child and her grandmother, the information, the list of books to read more, the glossary that is SO much more than a glossary!!!!! Why isn't everyone reading this book?????? I give it 10 **********!
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
An upstairs-downstairs view of a garden. A grandma shows her granddaughter how life unfolds over the course of a year. Illustrations are a plus.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Even I learned some things of who lives down in the dirt. This is a wonderful story of gardening, seasons and all who live there.
Karen Arendt
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The perfect book for looking at a garden from spring until the fall harvest. The alternating pages above (light) and below ground (dark background) give readers a look at both sides of the dirt- the work people do to plant and the animals below that survive below. Included are some additional details on the critters and creatures below.
Laura (Book Scrounger)
We enjoyed this look at many of the different types of things in nature that go on in one garden over the course of a year. Lovely illustrations too. Full review:
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a terrible gardener but it makes me so happy, and I have been looking for a book about the joy in it to share with my kids. They are 7 and 5 and love bugs and plants and leaves and pine cones. This book is gorgeous and sweet and just a smidge dark, and I think it will be perfect.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Cute book about the cycle of a garden above the soil and below during the four seasons. Loved the use of personification and prepositions!
R. G. Nairam
Kate Messner is SO GOOD at nonfiction picture books!
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perfect book to read to the kids as we start the fall garden.
Absolutely delightful. I love the amount of detail in the illustrations.

Notes on representation: The female protagonist and her grandmother appear to be white. No other human characters.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
Library Journal

Gr 1-3-Beneath every garden lies a secret world down in the dirt. In this enchanting follow-up to Over and Under the Snow (Chronicle, 2011), Messner explores that underground realm. This yearlong adventure begins early in spring, with a young girl learning from her grandmother that the soil is still too cold and wet to begin planting. The pair make plans while earthworms and insects work in the dirt. As the year goes by, they tend to the garden, weeding, watering, and keeping away
From the muddy days of early spring through moonlit autumn nights, a little girl and her Nana plant, tend and enjoy their garden. Insects and animals do their part, too, stirring the soil, eating pests and pollinating plants. Kate Messner's vivid descriptions of cool, crumbly earth, hot sun, and summer breezes will have readers itching to get their hands dirty.

Reviewed for the Baltimore Sun, March 2015.
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is very informative, just like its predecessor. I have to say that the last couple pages where the author goes through insect by insect is a fantastic way to present factual material to younger children. Once again, the illustrations are clean and simplistic, but do a marvelous job at "showing" the story.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked Over and Under the Snow a lot but for some reason I was completely enamored with the second book in this nature nonfiction picture book series. This time, a girl and her grandmother are planting a garden. Spanning many months, we see it grow and we learn about the various animals and insects that help or hinder with its progress.
Megan Wagner
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I love this book! It's so cool how you can see each creature doing their thing in the illustrations through different perspectives while reading about what they are doing... and I love the little facts about each animal at the end of the book.
Rachael Terry
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A story about what happens in a garden throughout the seasons. Adult reader information at the end about various animals/bugs found in gardens. Detailed illustrations. (not for storytime)
Tiwary Amit
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was our first pick of Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal. We came to this book from Kirkus Review. And what a brilliant suggestion it was.

This book is so widely recognised and appreciated. And rightly so. This book is so real and helps connect the young readers to the subject they identify easily. It is helping them understand climate, growth process, food cycle, and mystical underground world.

Highly recommended.
Tracy Morton
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great book about the seasonal cycle of growing season. Although it is very much a story book there is accurate representation of what is going on in a garden. I might try it for my gardening program. It seems to long to read to the little guys but I'm not sure if it is too juvenile to read to the older children.
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Kate Messner is an award-winning author, TED 2012 speaker, and former middle school English teacher. Her books for kids include THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.,SUGAR AND ICE, and EYE OF THE STORM (Walker/Bloomsbury Dec. 2010) the MARTY MCGUIRE series (Scholastic), SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Chronicle, Books). Kate also wrote SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE, ...more

Other books in the series

Over and Under (3 books)
  • Over and Under the Snow
  • Over and Under the Pond

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