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The Mitten Tree


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About the Author

Candace Christiansen grew up in the Hudson River Valley. Educated at the College of Saint Rose and Cornell University, she became interested in weaving and fiber arts while living in South Westerlo, New York, where she raised four children and forty sheep. Elaine Greenstein began making children's books about 15 years ago and is the author and illustrator of the popular Ice Cream Cones for Sale. Currently, she is working on a book about Konrad Lorenz. Greenstein also had stints as a pastry chef and a sculptor. She lives with her husband, Jose, in Brooklyn, New York.


Warm hands signify a warm heart in this tale of generosity. Old Sarah, whose children have grown and moved away, longs for the company of young people. She watches the neighbor children leave for school each morning, but they pay her no mind. When Sarah notices that one boy has no mittens, she knits him a pair and hangs them on the blue spruce tree near the bus stop. Thus begins a tradition of sorts, with Sarah leaving woolly surprises for each child on the "mitten tree" throughout the winter. And to her joy, the children secretly leave Sarah a ribbon-wrapped basket of new wool. Christiansen's (The Ice Horse) text approaches the heartwarming level but falls short in its resolution: Sarah remains alone (though she now has knitting to keep her occupied during the cold months). While kind gestures are reciprocated (albeit to the children's advantage since the wool yields more mittens), the characters in the story don't ever really interact. Greenstein's (Mrs. Rose's Garden) pastels have a rough-hewn, homespun texture well-suited to the textile theme here. Creamy tints of salmon pink, powder blue, evergreen and dijon yellow create a sense of warmth and cheer amidst a snowy backdrop. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)

PreS-K‘One winter day, elderly Sarah notices a young boy at the bus stop without mittens, so she knits him a pair and leaves them on a tree where he'll find them. She continues to knit (anonymously) and leaves mittens for the children who need them. One day, a large basket of yarn is left on her doorstep, enabling her to continue her work. The story is well told, warm without being treacly. The scratchy illustrations are done in crisp, winter colors. A good bedtime tale for a cold winter night after playing all day in the snow.‘Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, NY

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