Over the River & Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure

Written by Linda Ashman. Illustrated by Kim Smith.
Sterling Publishing, 2015. 978-1454910244


“A boisterous update of this seasonal song. The diverse cast, non-specificity of the holiday being celebrated, and all-too-familiar travel woes make for a thoroughly relatable and enjoyable story.”  — ★ Starred review, Publishers Weekly

“A rollicking fun time sure to be a hit with those traveling for their own family gatherings.” — Kirkus

“This celebration of the holiday and families of all stripes will be a great fit for group storytime.” — Booklist

Barnes & Noble’s Top Picture Book of the Month

Extras—For Writers:

With four families traveling to Grandma’s house, things can get confusing! I wound up color-coding my manuscripts to keep the families straight. Here’s an almost-final version of the manuscript. If you’d like to see what an early draft looks like, in all its nonsensical messiness, that’s here too:

Over the River (Almost Final)        Draft of Over the River

About this Story

I love it when editors propose book ideas, and three years ago my Sterling editor, Meredith Mundy, offered up a great one. Here’s the proposal she sent to my agent, Jennifer Mattson:

Not many kids travel to grandmother’s house in a sleigh pulled by horses these days, but plenty of kids and their families navigate airplanes and trains and buses and clogged highways to gather ‘round the Thanksgiving table with blended families from all over the country. Maybe some arrive by hot air balloon? Parachute? Harley? Plenty of chaos and wackiness could occur prior to the joyful reunion. Might this plot set-up, with the classic song as the underlying structure, be of interest to Linda as a project to tackle?

Might this be of interest? Heck, yeah!

In addition to using widely varying modes of transportation, we all agreed the characters should be a reflection of most families today. That means geographically scattered and diverse in composition—mixed race and same sex couples, with biological and adopted children. And while the families and their hectic travel plans are thoroughly contemporary, I couldn’t resist a nod to tradition: when they run into transportation snafus, they all wind up at Grandma’s courtesy of a horse-drawn sleigh. (NEIGH!)

Illustrator Kim Smith brought her characteristic energy, warmth and humor to the mix, as you can see from the samples below.

Illustrations copyright 2015 by Kim Smith. Sterling Publishing.