The Mitten

The Mitten retold by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock

This is a retelling of Ukrainian folktale made popular by Jan Brett whose beloved version is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.   A little boy heads out to play in his new hat, scarf and mittens that his grandmother has knitted for him.  While playing, he loses one of his mittens.  The mitten is found by a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, and a bear who manage to squeeze into the mitten and be nice and warm.  But when a mouse comes by and begs to join them too, it is too much for even grandmother’s strong knitting.  The mitten explodes with a satisfying burst. The boy and his grandmother find the scraps in the snow and the grandmother knits him another mitten.

Aylesworth changes the tone and style here with great skill, creating an American folktale feel that is filled with charm.  McClintock’s art is perfectly matched here with her vintage feel.  The bright red mitten is changed from the original white, adding a punch of color on each page.  Her art and Aylesworth’s writing both evoke folktales, cold snow, warm firesides and the smell of damp wool mittens. 

This is a retelling that is equal to the original, which is astounding.  Because the text and art is reworked, it was able to take on the same story with a very different style and do it successfully.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.