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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Mitten, written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic, 2009. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"Once upon a time there was
a happy little boy who loved to
play. Yes, he did.
In the spring, he loved to climb
trees and peek at baby birds.
In the summer, he loved to chase
the golden butterflies.
In the autumn, he loved to play in
piles of golden leaves.
And in the winter, he loved to play
in the white, white snow."

If you are familiar with this winter tale, you may have read Alvin Tresselt's version which was first published in 1964, or Jan Brett's more familiar work published first in 1989. Jim Aylesworth has here retold that story for a legion of new listeners.

When the cold weather first makes its appearance, a loving grandmother provides her beloved grandson with everything he needs to keep him warm on winter days. As he savors every moment of the joy that winter brings, he loses a mitten. It is when he gets back to his grandmother's that they notice it is gone. It's too cold and he's too tired to go back out to look for it. They will wait until tomorrow...

In the meantime a shivery squirrel finds the mitten and makes his way into the warmth it affords. He snuggles down and is soon fast asleep. Then along comes a frigid rabbit who likes the look of the mitten and wonders if he can snag a spot inside. The squirrel is adamant that there is no room...but the rabbit pleads with him and the squirrel, remembering what it was like to be so cold, relents and the rabbit is soon warm and toasty, too. Then a fox and a bear join the menagerie, finding a place to keep them protected from the chilly winter air. When a mouse seeks to join the group, it is just too much and the mitten flies apart...leaving everyone to find relief elsewhere.

When the grandson and his grandmother find what is left of the mitten the following morning they cannot imagine what has happened to it. No wonder! Off they go home so Grandmother can set to work on a new mitten to keep her grandson safe from cold winter winds. 

A great retelling with charming and wonderful illustrations of the forest animals who seek refuge from winter's icy blast. That we know about here today!

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