Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Mitten

The Mitten

Fall 2009 Picture Books
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Author: Jim Aylesworth
Illustrator: Barbara McClintock
ISBN: 9780439925440
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Forty five years ago, Alvin Tresselt brought his version of this traditional story to life for American children (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1964). Twenty years ago, Jan Brett's intricate illustrations and elaborate borders (Putnam, 1989) replaced Tresselt's simple two-color version and the story once again found a place in children's hearts (and librarian's repertoires). Now comes Jim Aylesworth whose conversational approach takes full advantage of the storyteller's well-honed bag of tricks: careful patterning, repeated refrains, and simple rhymes that will quickly have children chanting along as a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, a bear and a mouse all attempt to snuggle inside a single abandoned mitten. Barbara McClintock's illustrations match the mood perfectly, creating a quaintly old-fashioned interior scene for the grandmother and the boy whose lost mitten launches the adventure; softly rounded exterior scenes where piles of white snow are punctuated by sprays of red berries and the mitten itself; a series of creatures who are fuzzy rather than fearsome; and patterned layouts which echo the sequences in the text. Although a 20th anniversary edition of Brett's classic is due to be published almost simultaneously (Putnam, 10/2009), this author/illustrator combination manages to reveal the fine bones of the story without covering up its heart.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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