Thursday, November 11, 2010

Over the River and Through the Wood

When I think of Thanksgivings of my childhood I often remember singing the song, "Over the River and Through the Wood" at school, although I only remember learning the first couple verses. It's a sweet song, isn't it?
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood—
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!"

What I didn't know is that it was actually written as a poem by Lydia Maria Child. Lydia was an abolitionist, women's rights activist, as well as a novelist and journalist. Apparently she was one of the first female writers in the United States to make her living exclusively from her writing.

There are a few picture book adaptations of Lydia's beautiful poem.

I find the woodcut illustrations of Christopher Mason's version delightful. They are exactly the kind of images I imagine when singing the song.

David Catrow's iconic illustration style that you might recognize from some of his other books (like Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon) add an entirely different, yet still enjoyable, feel to this version. I like to read this one to my students after they're familiar with the traditional version. Since we've already discussed the unfamiliar terms like "dappled gray" and "spring over the ground," they're able to appreciate the humor in the illustrations.

One silly rendition is Over the River- A Turkey's Tale.

A fun activity for this book might be reading the book out loud without showing the pictures, letting students visualize the text and then again showing the pictures to show how the illustrations tell a very different story in this book.

Over the River...can be a great springboard for other activities. Scholastic offers this lesson plan about changing communities.

Everyone travels, whether it's a cross country sleigh ride to Grandma's or walking to a room down the hall. National Geographic has a beginning geography lesson about sketching mental maps. Once you've got your map ready, it's time to pack! How about playing "I am going on a trip?" Or trying out this online maze, just for fun?

Wherever your Thanksgiving celebrations take you, travel safely and remember that a good song helps the miles fly by!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the books to go along with one of my favorite songs to sing in the car. I'm going to check these out soon!


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