on March 25, 2011
As American Library Association, Booklist Magazine Best Children's Books of the 1980s and New Yorker Magazine Best Children's Books 1989, The Mitten continues to delight the young and the young at heart worldwide with its story, which is based on an ancient, popular Ukrainian classic folktale, and continues to be handed down generation to generation not only in Ukraine, but also worldwide. This handsome 1989 coffee-table edition with delightful illustrations by acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Jan Brett is an artistic adaptation which depicts not only the distinctive Ukrainian colorful costumes and artistic motifs, but also adheres to the Ukrainian spirit by utilizing text which Ukrainian characters would speak. This edition of The Mitten places the reader in a uniquely Ukrainian environ while retelling the enchanting, enthralling, enjoyable tale to today's toddlers, who are sure to enjoy it as much as toddlers did in days of yore.
Recommended for ages 4-8, The Mitten is a picture book based on a favorite Ukrainian folktale, a classic children's story handed down through the generations, which teaches about friendship and sharing. This Ukrainian folktale is so popular, in fact, that not only various versions of the book are sold, but finger puppets, and interactive CD-ROMs are also available.
In this adaptation by Jan Brett, the mitten's owner is a young Ukrainian boy named Nicki who asks his grandmother, Baba, to make him a pair of white mittens. At first his Baba is reluctant to knit them in white since she says that if dropped on snow, they'll be difficult to find. But Nicki persists, and eventually his Baba knits him a pair of warm, white mittens. Not long after, while playing, Nicki inadvertently leaves behind one of his warm, white mittens.
The first animal to discover the warmth of the white mitten is a mole, followed by a snowshoe rabbit, then a hedgehog, an owl, a badger, a fox, and a meadow mouse, who makes herself comfortable atop the big bear's nose. The bear, tickled by the whiskers of the minute mouse, gives a stupendous sneeze, which sends the warm, white mitten together with all of its occupants into the sky, scattering the animals helter-skelter.
Returning home, Nicki sees in the distance a snow-white shape, which is his lost mitten silhouetted against the sky. As he runs to it and catches his mitten, he notices Baba's face in the window. She's pleased that he's safe and sound and that he still has his warm, white mittens. A fun part of reading this story is that a mitten shape appears on each page and within that mitten is a prelude of what will ensue in the tale, making the story simple to follow. Sundry variations of this story abound as authors retell the tale of the mitten with animals and storylines that vary with each retelling.
This 1989 excellent edition published by G. P. Putnam's Sons is very aptly adapted and interestingly illustrated by Jan Brett, a best-selling American author/illustrator of children's books. Among her many awards, Ms. Brett is recipient of the Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2010 and Boston Public Library's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and her books have been chosen as "Best Children's Books of the Year" by The New Yorker, Parents magazine, Newsweek, and Redbook and have appeared on numerous Best Seller Lists. Anyone opening the cover of The Mitten will undoubtedly understand why Jan Brett has received the awards and her books continue to be so very popular with the public. In fact, The Mitten, is among her four best-known titles, which include The Hat, The Three Snow Bears, and Gingerbread Baby.
The front and back jacket art by Jan Brett depicts the characters from the folktale. A special touch throughout is the mitten which appears on each page and within that mitten are depictions of ensuing dialogue from The Mitten.
A very hearty five stars plus for a handsome coffee-table edition picture book which is illustrated artistically and delivers the ethnicity of Ukrainian folklore excellently. The Mitten is sure to be a continued favorite of not only the toddler, but also adults who are young at heart, as well.
Addendum: Children may enjoy other books on Ukrainian topics, which I've reviewed--many of them have images taken by me in Ukraine. There are currently over twenty books listed on my Listmania list entitled, "Children's Corner--for the Young and the Young at Heart..." Sometimes, there are several editions of one book, so be sure to find the ones with a review by Mandrivnyk.
To learn more about things Ukrainian, visit the Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Readers, you're also invited to visit each of my reviews--most of them have photos (with notes) that I took in Ukraine (over 600)--you'll learn lots about Ukraine and Ukrainians. The image gallery shows smaller photos, which are out of sequence. The preferable way is to see each review through my profile page since photos that are germane to that particular book/VHS/DVD are posted there with notes and are in sequential order.
To visit my reviews on the USA site: click on my pseudonym, Mandrivnyk, to get to my profile page; click on the tab called review; scroll to the bottom of the section, and click on see all reviews; click on each title, and on the left-hand side, click on see all images. The thumbnail images at the top of the page show whether photos have notes; roll your mouse over the image to find notes posted. Also, you're invited to visit my Listmania lists, which have materials sorted by subject.
Additionally, both kids and adults will find it to be enjoyable and educational to learn the names and locations of the regions/oblasts of Ukraine and test their knowledge by solving the Interactive Puzzle map. Please see my comment below this review on the USA site for further information.
Moreover, to view excellent slideshows of the 25 regions (24 oblasts and one autonomous republic) of Ukraine (you may even set the length of the slideshow), please see my comment below this review on the USA site.