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)