cover image The Mitten Tree

The Mitten Tree

Candace Christiansen. Fulcrum Group, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55591-349-6

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.)