30 November 2010

The Mitten: A Winter Classic

The Mitten, a Ukranian folktale retold and illustrated by Jan Brett, has always felt wam and tender, especially in the coldest winter months.  The story is simple and embodies a sweet message.  The illustrations are the what make this story so beloved. Intricate details from the feathers on the owl to the knitted yarn of the mitten create a beautiful scene and make the story come alive.

A white mitten is lost in the snow.  A mole finds it and crawls inside to get warm. Along comes a rabbit that squeezes in. Then a fox. Then an owl. Then a badger. Then a bear. Soon, there are many animals in the mitten. They are all warm and cozy, and make room for each new animal that comes along.
Outside of the mitten, many of these animals would be prey or predator to the others. Inside the mitten, they find tolerance, and they learn how to share this very small space with one another.  If we want to stretch our imaginations, we could see how this mitten might be a metaphor for the earth, and the animals each individual culture and country.  How would it be if we could all share our space so freely, so kindly, without quarrel, or insult?
Children don’t notice differences in skin color, body type, accent, or religion. They love unconditionally, share liberally, and make room for new friends. And I think that’s what The Mitten wants us to do: put differences aside, get along, and be friends.

See Jan Brett's website for more books, fun color pages and holiday projects.

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