As the winter days keep going, and we are into the month of lots and lots of red; I thought it only fitting to bring a lovely vintage book to the table that is full of wintery red mittens. This is a 1958 story by Florence and Louis Slobodkin, Too Many Mittens.
A fairly simple tale, Too Many Mittens is about twin boys, Ned and Donny, who live in Michigan where there are often very cold winters. At the beginning of the story, their parents go on a trip and Grandmother stays with the boys. She took very good care of the boys and always made sure that they wore their mittens when going outdoors. They each had a bright pair of warm, red mittens.
One day, Donny is unable to find a mitten. The search is on until a sweet friend brings the lost mitten back to him. However, the next morning, a kind neighbor who had heard of the lost mitten brought another one she had found and was sure it belonged to one of the boys. Also that day, the boys come home with an extra that their teacher was sure must belong to them. And so begins the comical turn of the story. More and more red mittens are discovered and everyone is sure that they must be the boys’.
Add to this mixture the return of the boys’ parents, and what did they bring as a gift? Mittens of course, because they only had one pair each! Perplexed but good-humored, the boys come up with a solution to return the lost mittens to their rightful owners. And as the book concludes, “…if you ever lose a red mitten, go to Ned’s and Donny’s house and ask if you can see the ‘Lost Mitten Line.’ It may be that your red mitten is hanging there, too.”
Books like this from the 1950s make me incredibly nostalgic for the simpler days of childhood. It’s so fun and heart-warming to read about small towns where everyone would know that some boys lost a mitten and want to help. I’ve read that it is possibly based on a personal story about the Slobodkins’ twin grandsons, but I’m not sure of the direct source of that. While this book is definitely on the longer side, as older books typically are, the story is clever and wintery and just plain fun to read.
I’m a big fan of the Slobodkins. Florence is credited as a poet and children’s book writer before she met Louis, but I have had a terrible time locating any information about her books before the collaboration. Louis was a famous sculptor and didn’t wander into children’s book art until working on some books with friend, Eleanor Estes. He then went on to create nearly 90 books, and wrote about 50 of them too. He won the 1944 Caldecott Medal for Many Moons, which was written by James Thurber. Louis’ art is instantly recognizable in books and I’m always ready to snatch a new one up. His lines are loose, and his colors, incredibly vibrant. The color palette is limited and yet, it doesn’t quite feel that way. It is impressive and lovely to have bold colors feel very soft and muted. Also, please note how the book title is made out of red mittens! Love it!
I hope you have a warm pair of mittens for your winter days, even if they aren’t red. And be sure to check out the tale of the twins and the many lost mittens.