Over and Under the Snow…Again

My students and I tromped into the Adirondack woods on snowshoes for our annual animal tracking excursion at the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths.  It was breathtakingly snowy and white, as always.

I’ve loved this field trip since we started taking it five or six years ago, but this year was extra special because I got to tell the naturalist who works with our kids that his trip inspired a picture book.  You see, during last year’s field trip, we spotted a set of mouse tracks that disappeared next to a crevice in the snow, and that sparked a discussion of what goes on in the subnivean zone…the network of airy tunnels that forms between the ground and the packed snow.  I was enchanted.  And I loved that word…subnivean. 

On the bus ride home, I dug a pencil out of my backpack, smoothed out my wrinkled attendance sheet, and on the back of it, wrote a very rough draft of a story about a girl who goes cross country skiing and learns about that secret world under the snow.  I revised and tweaked and eventually sent it to my agent, who found my snowy little story a home at Chronicle Books.

Fast forward a year…

I just turned in my revision, based on a brilliant five-page editorial letter.  Chronicle has found an amazing illustrator for the book — Christopher Silas Neal.  This weekend, I’ll get to meet my editor in person, since we’re both attending the same retreat in Vermont. 

But first, I have one more day of hiking through the snowy woods, following the tracks that tell stories in the snow.

11 Replies on “Over and Under the Snow…Again

  1. That looks like such fun, and is so amazing that you go on field trips in the snow. Here in Oklahoma, if it gets down to 40 degrees the kids aren’t allowed outside for recess, and school closes over no more than an inch of snow.

  2. We start having indoor recess when the temperature drops below 12F. Different philosophies, I guess, but our kids are also required to have boots and snow pants at school every day from December to April!

  3. 12F–Over on this side of the lake, it’s below zero. (Hardy Green Mountaineers, don’tcha know.) I will never forget my daughter’s second year of preschool. It was below zero so often the preschoolers didn’t get to play outdoors for about 3 weeks, and boy was it obvious!

  4. That’s the way it was when we lived in Nebraska. In Oklahoma, we have indoor recess on extremely windy days. Wouldn’t want to lose a kindergartner, you know.

    The song is not KIDDING about that “wind comes sweeping down the plain” line.

  5. Great story! Have fun meeting your editor! And at the weekend!

    I don’t think I’ll get a picture book out of it, but you inspired me to take my camera next time I’m cross country skiing (lots of snow coming down, but I hope the ice doesn’t wreck it at least for long)

  6. picture book

    Congratulations on Chronicle Books publishing your picture book. I write children’s picture books and Middle Grade stories. I’m not published yet, but still trying.