Over the River and Through the Wood: The New England Boy's Song About Thanksgiving Day

Overview

Matt Tavares’s lavish illustrations illuminate this definitive edition of a beloved seasonal classic.

The horse is ready, the air is bracing, and everyone is bundled into the sleigh. So let the wind blow and the snow start to fall! This family is off to Grandfather’s house for a delicious feast. Matt Tavares, with his keen eye for detail, fresh and surprising perspectives, and all the warmth and coziness of a big holiday dinner, illuminates the original text of Lydia Maria ...

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Overview

Matt Tavares’s lavish illustrations illuminate this definitive edition of a beloved seasonal classic.

The horse is ready, the air is bracing, and everyone is bundled into the sleigh. So let the wind blow and the snow start to fall! This family is off to Grandfather’s house for a delicious feast. Matt Tavares, with his keen eye for detail, fresh and surprising perspectives, and all the warmth and coziness of a big holiday dinner, illuminates the original text of Lydia Maria Child’s verse about Thanksgiving Day, which has marked the start of the holiday season for generations of children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tavares (’Twas the Night Before Christmas) crafts a polished tribute to another holiday classic, this time a Thanksgiving song that writer and activist Child wrote as a poem for an 1844 volume. This version preserves Child’s original punctuation and spellings, and while the song’s later verses probably won’t be instantly recognizable (a common enough occurrence with holiday songs), readers’ familiarity with the tune will carry them through. So will Tavares’s paintings, a mix of watercolors, gouache, and pencil whose crispness is well suited to the wintry 19th-century setting. Tavares brings life to this countryside jaunt with light doses of humor and action: A dog races after the sleigh, trying to return a lost hat, and a boy, riding inside with his parents, peers out excitedly as the horse bounds uphill, rabbits dodging and dashing (“Over the river, and through the wood,/ No matter for winds that blow”). Other active scenes show a crowded pond full of ice skaters and a snowball fight en route, as Tavares evokes both the frosty ride and the cozy rewards at journey’s end. Ages 3–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Emily Griffin
Over the River and Through the Wood is a new, illustrated version of Lydia Maria Child's classic verse about Thanksgiving. Born outside Boston, Child's was a teacher, writer, and editor, as well as an abolitionist and women's rights activist. She is best remembered for this poem, which is based on her memories traveling to her grandfather's house for Thanksgiving with her family. Tavares breathes new life into this holiday verse with big, vivid illustrations of a snowy New England winter. There is a cheerful tone to the story; Tavares' watercolor, pencil, and gouache illustrations are set in a historic time. A young family—dad, mom, son, daughter, and puppy—travel in the snow-covered town and woods in their horse and carriage to get to their grandfather's house. Like many popular children's songs, I thought I knew this poem but realized in reality I was only familiar with the first few lines. This would be an excellent choice for a Thanksgiving read-aloud in the home, classroom, or library. A note about the author is included. Reviewer: Emily Griffin
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—A charming and dynamic rendition of the song about Thanksgiving Day, originally published in 1844. All 12 original verses are included, each old-fashioned scene appropriately matching the text. Tavares's watercolor, ink, and pencil illustrations are crisp and bright, expertly capturing the wind-whipped outdoor scenes of the sleigh moving from page to page and ultimately to grandfather's house for a feast. This version is similar in feel to the one illustrated by Brinton Turkle (Coward-McCann, 1974), but it does not include the music notation. A note about the author's life is appended. Overall, a worthy addition.—Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

Wintry new illustrations recall the forgotten landscape of Child's traditional Thanksgiving travel song.

A horse-drawn sleigh carries a boy, his parents and sister through his New England hometown. They pass a toy store, cross over a frozen river where townspeople skate and travel through a gentle snowfall into the countryside to his grandparents' home, where cousins play snowball and grandmother waits with pie. Each verse is set on a full-bleed, double-page painting done in watercolor, ink and pencil, sentimental evocations of the early 19th century. Tavares (Henry Aaron's Dream, 2010, etc.) shows the original farmhouse Child would have visited rather than the much enlarged version to be seen in Medford, Mass., today. Careful readers will enjoy tiny details in the illustrations. Early on, the boy's cap blows off. The dog captures it and trots alongside, only dropping it after their safe arrival. From broad landscapes to family close-ups, the illustrator varies his subjects and perspectives. The sleigh moves steadily forward until it arrives, turns and stops. The page turn reveals the extended family at dinner. Readers who think they know the song will be surprised to see unfamiliar verses; not all of them scan well as the familiar ones, but they also extend the story.

A note about the author and her poem concludes this celebration, an ideal grandparent gift. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pamela Paul
A lovely way to start the season.
—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
An old-timey New England landscape of wintry merrymaking. A lovely way to start the season.
—The New York Times

Tavares brings life to this countryside jaunt with light doses of humor and action.
—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763627904
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 800,973
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lydia Maria Child (1802—1880) was an activist and writer of novels, pamphlets, and works for children. She often used her writing to advocate for slaves, women, and Native Americans. Lydia Maria Child was born in Medford, Massachusetts, where her grandfather’s house, which she celebrates in her poem, still stands.

Matt Tavares is the illustrator of many books for children, including ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and Kristin Kladstrup’s THE GINGERBREAD PIRATES. He is also the author-illustrator of several books about baseball: ZACHARY'S BALL, OLIVER'S GAME, MUDBALL, and HENRY AARON'S DREAM. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.

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