Kate Dudding: The Mitten

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One winter afternoon, when the ground was all covered by snow, a grandmother, named Baba, sat knitting by the fire.

"Misha," she called to her grandson, "I think weíll need some more firewood to last through the night."

"Iíll go get some, Baba."

"Be sure you go right away, Misha. It will start growing dark soon."

"Alright, Baba."

So Misha put on his heavy coat and his mittens. But his mittens were so small that he couldnít straighten out his hands.

"Oh, Misha, those mittens are so small for you. I think today will be the last day that you will wear them."

"But, Baba! I love these mittens Ė theyíre my favorite color. You made them for my oldest cousin and now itís my turn to wear them."

"Misha, Iím very happy to hear that you like my mittens. But havenít you noticed what Iíve been knitting?" Baba held up her work for Misha to see.

"Baba! Youíre making some new mittens and theyíre my favorite color too!"

"Thatís right, Misha. New mittens, especially for you, since we donít have any larger mittens for you to wear. Did you see that Iím knitting a snowflake into the backs of the mittens? I know how you love to play in the snow."

"Theyíre beautiful, Baba! Thank you so much. When can I wear them?"

"I think I can finish them tonight, if the fire is bright enough."

"Alright, Baba, alright," Misha laughed. "Iíll go get the firewood right away."

So Misha left the cottage, pulling his sled. Mishaís sled had boards that stood up along the front and sides so that he could use the sled to carry things, like firewood. Misha had collected quite a bit of firewood when it started snowing big, fat, juicy, tasty snowflakes. So Misha stopped for a snack, catching snowflakes on his tongue.

"Wow! Look at those icicles! Iíve got to get those!"

Misha ran over to the icicles, but his hands kept slipping when he tried to grab them.

"Iíll take off these mittens," Misha said, and he stuffed them in his pocket. Well, he thought he stuffed them in his pocket. Then he played with those icicles for a long time until he looked up.

"Oh no! Itís getting late. Iíve got to get more firewood!" So he dropped the icicles, grabbed his sled and ran to pick up more firewood. He never noticed that he had dropped his right mitten in the snow.

 

But someone else noticed. A young mouse came scurrying along on top of the snow.

"That looks like a warm place to get out of the cold air."

So the young mouse backed into the mitten with only the tip of his nose sticking out.

 

Pretty soon a rabbit with a very twitchy nose came hopping by.

"Itís so cold out here," the rabbit said to the young mouse. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," said the young mouse. "Thereís always room for one more."

So the rabbit backed into the mitten, and the mitten stretched a bit.

 

Then an owl that had woken up early was soaring up above and spotted the mitten. The owl landed and walked over the mitten using his sharp talons to dig into the snow.

"Itís so cold out here," the owl said to the young mouse. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," said the young mouse. "Thereís always room for one more."

But the rabbit, twitching his nose, said, "Just watch where you put those sharp talons!"

So the owl carefully backed into the mitten, and the mitten stretched some more.

 

Then a fox with very sharp gleaming teeth came hurrying by.

"Itís so cold out here," the fox said grinning at the young mouse. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," said the young mouse. "Thereís always room for one more."

But the rabbit, twitching his nose, said, "Just watch where you put those sharp teeth!"

So the fox carefully backed into the mitten, and the mitten stretched a lot more, even the seam started to spread apart.

 

Then a great big bear came lumbering by.

"Itís so cold out here," the bear said to the young mouse. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," said the young mouse. "Thereís always room for one more."

But the rabbit, twitching his nose and looking the bear over, said, "Just watch, just watch, just watch where you put everything, youíre so big!"

So the bear carefully backed into the mitten, and the mitten stretched a lot more, and the seam really spread apart. But because Baba had knitted and sewn the mitten so well, it held together.

 

Then a tiny cricket came hopping along.

"Itís so cold out here," the cricket chirped at the young mouse. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," said the young mouse. "Thereís always room for one more."

"Sure," said the rabbit, twitching his nose. "Youíre so small Ė Iím sure you can fit it."

But as soon as the cricket put just one foot into the mitten, the seam split apart, exploding the animals all over the snow. They all scurried to find other places to get out of the cold air. Only that stretched out mitten was left lying in the snow.

 

Just about this time, Misha finished loading his sled with firewood. "Oh, itís getting very cold and itís beginning to get dark. I better put on my mittens and head for home."

So he reached into his pocket and took the left mitten out and put it on. But when he reached in again, "Oh no! Whereís the other mitten? Aw, I didnít lose it, did I? Well, at least, I can follow my tracks in the snow to find the mitten. When I lose a mitten in the fall, I have to look everywhere for it."

So Misha turned his sled around, and followed his tracks, anxiously searching for his right mitten. When he found it, he held it up. The seam was ripped apart, and the mitten was at least twice as big as the left one.

"Oh NO! What happened to this mitten? We canít give this to my next younger cousin. Well, maybe Baba can fix itÖ"

Misha stuffed that giant mitten into his pocket, and put his hand on top of the mitten too, just to be sure that it didnít fall out again. Then he trudged on home to the cottage.

 

"Hereís some of the firewood, Baba," he said glumly, staring at the floor.

"Misha, I can tell something is wrong. Tell me what it is and maybe I can help."

"Oh Baba, look!" Misha held up the giant mitten.

"Misha! Whatever did you do to that mitten? Never has any grandchild of mine brought back a mitten looking like that!"

"Baba, I donít know what happened. I dropped the mitten in the snow, and when I found it again, thatís what it looked like. Canít you fix it?"

"Hmm, well, if I wash the mittens, I can stretch the small one a bit, and maybe I can squish the big one back into shapeÖ"

So thatís what Baba did. When the mittens were dry, she found some leftover yarn and sewed the seam back together. Then those mittens were given to Mishaís younger cousin.

 

But that right mitten was always larger than the left one.

And Misha and Baba, unlike you and me, never knew why.


 

Copyright 2003 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sources:

"The Mitten", by Alvin Tresselt, 1964

"The Mitten", by Jan Brett, 1989

 


Kate Dudding (518) 383-4620
8 Sandalwood Drive kate@katedudding.com
Clifton Park, NY 12065-2700 USA
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