cover image Over the River and Through the Wood

Over the River and Through the Wood

L. Maria Child, illus. by Matt Tavares. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2790-4

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.)