subnivean zone

WK headcanon of the day: Chris gets cold easily.  And yeah, bringing this up because of the picture X3

This is actually one inspired more by watching the real Chris, and then seeing things related in the show itself.  If you watch the RL segments, as a general rule he’ll always be wearing more layers than Martin, his coats will be closed up more, sometimes his sleeves will even be pulled down over bare hands in cold weather.  A couple notable segments I can think of include ending Masked Bandits, and ending Race for the Hippo Disc, though there are many others I just can’t think of right now because I’m sleepy and haven’t had a real meal yet.

Going off that, we can see little notes here and there in the show itself.  The most basic one is that he wears his jacket more zipped up than Martin does; it may even be more of a pullover since the zipper doesn’t go all the way down the way it’s shown doing so on Martin’s.

Clue #1.

Clue #2 is in the caps I put on the recent drawing, which comes from a de-blanketed Chris in Elephant in the Room.  For one thing, as SOON as the blanket is stolen, he starts shivering.

And though this other part is kind of subtle (so much so that I missed it the first few times I saw this episode >_> ), once Thornsley wrecks his havoc on their sleeping arrangements and tosses Chris on top of Martin, Chris is sitting there shivering still.

I don’t have a gif of it sadly, but there’s the shot to keep an eye out for if you wanna look for it yourself.  But even here, you can kinda tell his arms look crossed over in front of him, just adding to the shivering.  After this, Chris can be seen camped on top of Martin, no big deal, he’s warm.  (Related headcanon: Martin gets hot easily, but that’s another post for another day)

Clue #2.

#3 comes to us from Snow Runners.  Granted, being a lizard out in the snow wouldn’t be fun for anybody.  But Chris seemed to have an especially hard time of it, didn’t he?

Plus his myriad running commentary on how cold it was, Aviva did you finish the hare suit yet, can I go get somewhere warm yet, are we finished now, did I mention how cold it was.

And I suppose sub-Clue #3 (because it’s such a small thing) is in Journey to the Subnivean Zone.  I’m just gonna leave this here.

(And that once again, at least for a moment, you can see him shivering.)

This is probably one of my main headcanons for Chris, one that (particularly after noting the same in his RL counterpart) I pretty much call canon.  If nothing else, it’s fun to play around with in RP and the like.

Besides, it also happens to make a particular creature power a little more amusing, namely sperm whale.

Because let’s give the big blubbery power to the one that’s going to get chilly down in the ocean depths.  And also needs all that protection because CHRIS YOU TINY

(Walrus is a minor example for the same reason; minor because Martin gets it too, and also gets his own warm power in polar bear)

So yeah, there you go.  Just felt like sharing it with you guys X3  Whether you agree or disagree, I hope it was at least an enjoyable read.

The Surprisingly Complex Principles of a Successful Picture Book

Melissa Manlove, one of our children’s book editors, writes about what makes a picture book brilliant.

Picture books look simple, right? Well, they’re meant to look simple. But like most books, Over and Under the Snow represents years of work, conversations, revisions, impatience, worry, and inspiration.

While discussing the principles of a good picture book would take much longer than one blog post, Over and Under offers a nice opportunity to explore some of the ways children’s books do a great deal in spare words and art.


Over the snow I glide. Into woods, frosted fresh and white.

Cadence is not something you can build from instructions; Ikea does not sell it. Most talented writers seem to have an innate sense of the various musics of our language and the effects of those musics—I don’t know anyone who does this by anything other than feel.

And yet the effect here is very deliberate. The rhythm of these sentences is regular; it is the rhythm of the skiers’ movements; the repeated “ess” sounds evoke the swish of the skis on snow. (In these spare eleven words, there are five sets of repeated sounds. Alliteration and assonance generate a connectedness in these words in addition to their meaning.) And listen to the pauses—you can’t hurry through this arrangement of words. Particularly the combination of ‘frosted’ with ‘fresh’ makes a very slight tongue-twister. Between that and the punctuation, the reader unconsciously pauses three times in this short speech. What we hear in Kate’s words is as important as what she makes us hear in between the words—the space, the hush of this winter landscape.


“Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm. You’re skiing over them now.”

Chipmunk, mouse, squirrel—their renderings here vary a bit, tempting the reader to pause on them, wonder about them. But their proportion to each other is deliberately consistent, because some children will never before have seen a chipmunk (for example). Research by the author, the artist, and the fact-checker (always, a fact-checker, just to be sure) underlies every piece of good nonfiction.

Accuracy is less sexy than other qualities, but still of fundamental importance. Behind the scenes at the publisher of any nonfiction book, there is a great deal of discussion about the line between artistic interpretation (in both text and art) and the factual import children need from nonfiction books. How much abstraction for artistic intent is acceptable? What needs to come across in information? What needs to come across in feeling?

Another example of the thoughtful choice between fact and interpretation is the term “secret kingdom”, which is used more than once in the book. Not until the backmatter does Kate explain that the technical term for the place under the snow but above the ground is “subnivean zone”. Both terms are powerful for different reasons, and we deliberately made space for both in the book.

Read the rest over on our blog!