International Books for Children Holiday

Over the River & Through the Wood

A Holiday Adventure

By Linda Ashman (Author), Kim Smith (Illustrator)


Format Hardcover Picture Book


Over the River & Through the Wood

A Holiday Adventure

by Linda Ashman, Kim Smith



Barnes and Noble Indiebound
Pack up the pooches and load the van.
We need to leave by eight!
There’s so much to bring.
Do we have everything?
Come on, we can’t be late!
The classic song gets a fresh new twist! The fun begins when Grandma and Grandpa send invitations to their far-flung, modern, and multiracial family: Come to our house for the holidays—and bring your favorite pie! Off everyone goes, driving down snowy roads, riding the train, boarding a plane . . . even sailing along in a hot-air balloon. As each family faces an obstacle that delays their trip, they learn that sometimes the most old-fashioned form of transportation works best . . . NEIGH!
*“’Off to the airport before the dawn./ It’s park, then dash, then... wait.’ Ashman offers a boisterous update of this seasonal song, highlighting the contemporary tradition of harried holiday travel. The endpapers lead in nicely, showing a wall of photographs of the families about to descend on Grandma and Grandpa’s house for an unnamed winter holiday. Each family (some are mixed race, one includes two fathers) has its own journey to make by land, sea, or air (a hot-air balloon even comes into play), and each hits a snag, requiring rescue by a horse-drawn sleigh. Smith’s lively digital illustrations include plenty of visual jokes to pore over, and the diverse cast, non-specificity of the holiday being celebrated, and all-too-familiar travel woes make for a thoroughly relatable and enjoyable story. Ages 3–up.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
“An invitation to a holiday gathering at Grandma and Grandpa's house is the catalyst for some new verses to the familiar song. Front and back endpapers show family portraits, and observant readers can match them to the four families receiving invitations. They are wonderfully diverse: a suburban Caucasian couple with three kids; a big-city gay couple—one white, one dark-skinned—with a baby and a young girl that reflect their races; a white woman and a black man from San Francisco with their mixed-race boy; and a Caucasian couple from Alaska who appear to have adopted twin native girls. Their travels are just as varied—ferry, airplane, subway, hot air balloon, car, shuttle, train. The book follows each family individually as their journeys begin, but their paths cross near their final destination, when each is thwarted in some way until—‘NEIGH!’—they are saved by an increasingly crowded horse-drawn sleigh. The final spreads, in the grandparents' home, are cozy and reflect reality—readers can almost hear the cacophony of voices, see the friendly chaos of lots of people gathered together, and feel the love. Ashman's verses mostly fit the rhythm of the original song, and Smith's digital illustrations are filled with so many details that repeat readings are required to spot them all. A rollicking fun time sure to be a hit with those traveling for their own family gatherings. (Picture book. 3-8)” —Kirkus Reviews
“Ashman and Smith collaborate in the creation of a unique family-gathering holiday adventure. Four families—nuclear, biracial, adoptive, and gay—head to the grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving. Coming from different parts of the U.S., the families make their ways to grandma’s house via car, train, plane, and boat. But problems occur en route—the car runs out of gas, the rental lot at the train station is empty, a tire goes flat on the airport shuttle, and so on. Luckily, in every transportation crisis, a one-horse open sleigh always manages to come to the rescue. Based on the familiar nineteenth-century Thanksgiving Day song, Ashman’s galloping lyrics neatly complement Smith’s lively traveling scenes, which are packed full of fun family antics. The warm full-color palette and cheery cartoonish faces add to the genial atmosphere, and humorous details peppering the backgrounds will be fun for little kids to hunt for. With singsongy lines and a repeated refrain, this celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday and families of all stripes will be a great fit for group storytime.” —Booklist
“PreS-Gr 2–This contemporary take on the classic song features a diverse, modern extended family. Four siblings race to get home for the holidays while keeping their pies intact. They all run into problems whether they are flying, boating, renting a car, or even ballooning. In each instance, they are rescued by a man in a sleigh. A variety of family types are represented: biracial, adoptive, and those with same-sex parents. The book is full of rhyming words and has a pleasing cadence. Illustrations are full of friendly facial expressions and moments of family joy. The predictable “Neighhh” on several pages will make this a fun read-aloud. VERDICT An enchanting spin on an old tale.” —School Library Journal

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Linda Ashman has written more than 20 children's books, including Creaky Old House; Stella, Unleashed; No Dogs Allowed!, and TheTwelve Days of Christmas in Colorado (all Sterling). She lives in Chapel Hill, NC. Visit Linda online at
Kim Smith has a fun and vibrant extended family, perfect as inspiration for this book. This is the fourth children’s book she has illustrated, along with A Ticket Around the World (Owlkids Books), The Raven and the Loon (Inhabit Media), and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Canada (Sterling, NYP). Kim lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband, Eric, and their one-eyed goldfish named Goulash. Visit Kim online at

Pub Date: 10/6/2015

ISBN: 9781454910244

Price: $14.95 / $16.95 CAN

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Pages: 32 pages, all in color

Trim: 11 x 8.5 Inches

Territories: World

Category: Juvenile / Holiday/Thanksgiving

Age Range: 3 and up

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books