A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Cornelia Meigs (1884â€“1973), Invincible Louisa, Swift Rivers; Jim Kjelgaard (1910â€“1959), Big Red; and Elizabeth Yates (1905â€“2001), Amos Fortune, Free Man.
- In 1768 the first edition of EncyclopĂ¦dia Britannica is published. Read the Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald Sobol.
- Thomas Edison creates the first human voice recordingâ€”â€śMary had a little lambâ€ťâ€”in 1877. Read Mary Had a Little Lamb by Sarah Hale, illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
December 6 marks Mitten Tree Day; to celebrate everyone is encouraged to decorate a Christmas tree with mittens (the tree and mittens can be real or cut out from brightly colored paper). As I write this, I am packing to travel to Canada and Seattle to present a workshop on childrenâ€™s classics. One of the questions I always ask in these seminars is â€śWhat are your favorite books destined to become classics?â€ť Our book of the day, Jan Brettâ€™s The Mitten, always emerges as a fan favorite. It has now been in print long enough, more than twenty years, to have achieved classic status.
In a story adapted from a Ukrainian folk tale, Jan Brett relates the saga of Nikki, who wants mittens as white as snow. His grandmother Baba does not want to knit them, as they can be easily lost. But Nikki insists and finally gets his beautiful new white mittens, crafted with love and care. And, then, just as Baba predicted, he drops one of them in the snow.
What follows is a delicious repetitive sequence, in which the mitten becomes the home of many animals who go inside and snuggle togetherâ€”rabbit, mole, hedgehog, fox, even a bear fit themselves into its warm space. To accommodate them, the mitten stretches and stretches. Finally bearâ€™s sneeze sends the mitten flyingâ€”onto Nikkiâ€™s hand. In the end, although he brings both mittens back, Baba looks quizzically at one of them, now stretched to a much larger size.
A perfect cumulative tale, ideal for story hour or reading to a family, The Mitten features exquisite artwork that showcases Jan Brettâ€™s strengths as an artist. On many pages, bordered by boxes that look like birch bark, scenes depicting the action of the text have been framed by one side panel showing Nikki playing and other panel depicting the animal that will appear next. This structure allows children to follow many stories and to anticipate the next page. Based on Ukrainian folk art, the drawings feature strong portraits of the animal characters and create a snowbound and enticing landscape.
Although for years I have used a dog-eared version of this book, I just purchased and would recommend the 20th Anniversary Edition, which has been lavishly produced and makes a very attractive present. Whatever edition you use on Mitten Tree Day or any other day in December, this totally satisfying picture book should be part of any winter celebration. It combines fantasy and reality in equal dosesâ€”the perfect offering on a cold winterâ€™s day.
Hereâ€™s a page from The Mitten:
Originally posted December 6, 2011. Updated for .