Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits Children's Book Review
What Do You Think?
Based on this review or your personal experience:See results without voting
Yoon and The Christmas Mitten ISBN 0374386889 is my favorite Christmas art book this year. This children's picture book tells the story of Yoon, a young Korean immigrant, who learns about some exciting new American Christmas traditions from the teacher at her new American School. Yoon grows increasingly excited about stories of "Mr. Santa Claus" and Christmas trees with bright twinkling lights. Author Helen Recorvits gets the feel of a young child's sense of awe and wonder just right, while creating the story's main tension by also presenting Yoon's parents' discomfort with the new traditions.
Each day, after Yoon comes home with an excitement about a newfound Christmas tradition, Yoon's parents remind her that "we're not a Christmas family." Gently but firmly, Yoon's mother explains that they will honor their Korean custom of celebrating the New Year by visiting family friends and sharing a delicious meal. Yoon remains excited and hopeful by the prospect of Christmas presents and a visit from Santa Claus, but her parents are firm in their desire to celebrate as they did in Korea.
When Yoon begs her parents to allow her to leave out one of her small mittens for Santa to fill, Yoon's parents have a change of heart. The resolution to the story is a heart-tugging, hankerchief-grabbing moment that will have you saying "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!"
Author Helen Recorvits characterizes Yoon's little family in a sensitive and truthful light in Yoon and the Christmas Mitten. This is not the story of a Korean family converting to Christianity (as religion doesn't play a part in it), nor is it a story that presents Yoon's parents as uncaring. She creates a strong sense of truth in her characterizations of a young and impressionable child who wants to experience the celebration of Christmas just as her classmates do. For Yoon, everything about Christmas seems magical. Yoon's parents merely wish to preserve their own heritage. This is a sensitive story about immigrants learning to adapt to a new culture, and working out how to bring in new Christmas traditions without giving up their old ones.
Admirably, Recorvits manages to give this story a completely stand-alone quality despite the fact that it is a follow-up to the Recorvits' other successful story about Yoon which is simply titled My Name Is Yoon.
I really enjoyed this book with its strong impressionistic oil paintings that use vibrant colors to depict Yoon, her family, and her imaginations of Santa Claus in contrast to muted and even drab greys and greens. The muted colors in the illustrations represent Yoon's exterior surroundings while the bright colors represent her rich inner life. On the first page of the story, Yoon is depicted turning toward the reader with a beautiful red hat and coat, flushed cheeks, and dark, rosebud lips. Yoon's red mittens and red dress give this book a strong Asian presence AND the feeling of Christmas. But she is depicted standing far away from the other children, with her hands in her pockets, against a background of smut-colored gray snow. Artist Gabi Swiatkowska adds an increased depth to the story through her artwork. Each of her pictures has a characteristic quality that balances realism with fantasy, and leaves the viewer with an impression of Yoon's separation from the other children. The artwork gives this book a complicated, textured feeling rather than a depressing one. The resolution to this story is lighthearted.
I'd give this book a strong recommendation for both teachers and parents who want to add a wonderful Christmas story to their book collection. This story doesn't have the cheesy, sappy, or overly sentimental feel that Christmas stories sometimes have. It is an excellent introduction to the concept that other cultures celebrate holidays in different ways than Americans, and yet it also shares the magic of some of the enjoyable American Christmas holiday traditions like Christmas Stockings and Santa Claus.
Buy These Helen Recorvits Books Online
My Name Is Yoon is the first in a series about young Korean immigrant to the U.S. This book has stunning and sensitive artwork that won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award in 2004.
This is the third book in the series. This is a story about bullying and false friendship, but don't worry, Yoon succeeds in outwitting the tiger who tries to steal her bracelet. A must-add title to a teacher's classroom collection for its empathetic qualities.
Christmas Hubs by Wannabwestern
- An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The frigid, snow-covered, outlying farmstead near early 20th century Lansing Michigan is the setting of An Orange for Frankie, a children's Christmas story written by Patricia Polacco.
- The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Mackall
The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall is a realistic Christian fiction story set during the Depression-Era 1930s features a young boy named Jack and an angel-shaped cookie that teaches the meaning of Christmas.
- Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer is a fanciful cookie book that brings a whole new perspective on holiday baking.
- 15 Ways to Beat the Christmas Blues
15 quick ways to add holiday cheer when the Christmas blues knock on your door.
- The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
The Gingerbread Boy ISBN 0899191630, 1975, Clarion, by author Paul Galdone retells the traditional folktale about a gingerbread boy who loves to taunt folks then run away.
- The White Felt Stocking: An Inspiring True Story
My Grandmother lost the use of her hand after brain tumor surgery 25 years ago, but she still persists in making ornate white felt Christmas stockings for others. This story is a triumph over difficult circumstances and dedicated to Grandma.
- The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
The Littlest Angel, by Author Charles Tazewell has been in publication continuously for over 60 years, making it one of the most well-known Christmas stories ever published. Read more here...
- The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Crippled Lamb by popular Christian author Max Lucado and artist and illustrator Liz Bonham is one Christian picture book that truly shines on its own merits as a well-told story.
More by this Author
Here is the basic formula I use for our library's story hour. I use books, music, movement, and transitions to create the sense of routine that young children crave.
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle first published in 1977 is a children's book classic. It's visual appeal and themes of telling time, bullying, and comparing sizes will entertain preschool and elementary age audiences....
The key to a successful birthday party at any child's age is to remember that the goal is to make that child feel special while helping guests to have a good time, too. As simple as this assertion is, making it happen...