Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Mitten

The mitten
Author:  Jan Brett
Illustrator:  Jan Brett
Published:  1989
A few years ago I attended a reading conference in Roanoke, Virginia.  There I had the opportunity to listen to Ms. Jan Brett discuss her book, The Easter Egg, her art, and her writing.  She drew the most beautiful picture of a bunny.  It was inspiring and such an honor to get to listen to someone so passionate and to watch her draw.  The most inspiring part of her presentation however, was the story she shared with us about The Easter Egg.  She told us that she had been at an event, I believe she was signing books, when a mother came up to her.  The mother explained to Ms. Brett that her son was autistic and that the only thing that he responded to was the pictures in Ms. Brett's books.  Ms. Brett then wrote The Easter Egg for this particular child and for all children to know that we all have our own gift, we just have to figure out what it is.  In The Easter Egg, a bunny wants to make a beautiful egg for the Easter Bunny.  The bunny who has his or her egg chosen by the Easter Bunny gets to deliver the Easter eggs with the Easter Bunny.  The bunny visits many gifted bunnies who are making beautiful eggs. Eventually, the bunny discovers his gift, the gift of caring about others, and is chosen by the Easter Bunny.  As you can imagine, this story brought tears to my eyes and I instantly became a huge fan of Ms. Brett because she writes children's books for children.  I always share this story with my students and have them think about their own gifts. 

Since I had already read The Easter Egg, I decided to read another book by Ms. Brett that I had not read before, but I still had to share my story with you and explain why I chose the book.

The Mitten is about a little boy, Nicki, who asks his grandmother, Baba, to make his mittens as white as snow.  Baba tells him that it's a bad idea because if he drops a white mitten, he probably won't be able to find it again.  Baba does make the white mittens for Nicki, and luckily, Baba is a great knitter because once Nicki drops the mitten, several different creatures decide to make a home in the mitten.  If you have read a book by Jan Brett before, you will notice that the pictures are framed so that you can see several things going on at the same time.  Inside the frame is where the major events are occurring.  It is inside the frame that we see a mole, a rabbit, a hedgehog, an owl, a badger, a fox, a bear, and finally a mouse move in to the mitten.  In the frame, there are two mittens that are windows to other activities that move the story along.  In the small mitten frame to the left, you see Nicki playing in the snow, not realizing that he has lost his mitten, but also disturbing the animals who make their way into the mitten.  In the mitten frame on the right page, you see the animals as they make their way to the mitten.

The mouse, that approached the mitten after the bear, tickled the bear's nose, causing the bear to sneeze.  When he sneezes all of the animals fly out of the mitten and Nicki finds his mitten flying through the air.  So, although Baba was right, he would lose the mitten, Nicki makes it home with his mitten intact, although extremely stretched out!  Paying attention to the pictures and seeing what is coming next was fun, but also wondering how all of the animals would get in to the mitten, made me want to keep reading. 

I would definitely have the students use this story to help them notice the vocabulary and the wondrous words used by Ms. Brett.  The mole is "tunneling along," the rabbit "admires his winter coat," the hedgehog "came snuffling along."  It would be a good time for students to revise their work and find words that make their own stories more interesting and easier to visualize. 


Kaylee Holt said...

I LOVE "The Mitten!" How exciting it must have been to see Jan Brett speak! I have shown videos of her to my students, but I cannot imagine getting to meet her! I enjoyed reading your review of "The Mitten," and I'd like to read "The Easter Egg" next! :)

Sya LaManque said...

Kaylee, it was amazing! Please go to Ms. Brett's facebook page and sign up for a teacher packet! She sent that beautiful Mossy bag, a letter, and some wonderful ideas to use in class. If you write and ask her a question, she writes back, too! She is an amazing person.