A Mountain of Mittens drew me in from the colorful, busy cover, and the fun title. Written by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Mitch Vane, A Mountain of Mittens is a mad-cap romp about an out-of-control elementary school lost-and-found box. The protagonist is young Molly, a cherished apparently only child of loving parents. When mitten season arrives, Molly's parents remind her to bring home her mittens. And Molly cheerfully promises to do so. But, well, things get in the way. And one pair of mittens after another end up added to the ever-growing mountain of left-behind mittens. Eventually, the mountain of mittens reaches a crisis point, and professional help is required to save the day.
This book is a happy marriage of text and illustration. Both are laugh-out-loud funny. The teachers are named Mr. Jolly, Miss Holly, Mr. Golly, and Mrs. Folly. All of them are pretty grouchy about having to dispose of left-behind mittens every day. At one point Mrs. Folly yells: "Holy mittens!". It is also her folly that leads to the book's crisis. Molly is heard to say at one point, "Oh golly, Mr. Golly." (An amusing echo of "good golly, Miss Molly" from the song.) There's also a regular, cheerful refrain throughout the book:
"Mittens, Mittens. My, oh, my! A Mountain of Mittens. Piled up high."
All in all, the book has plenty of rhyming and alliteration to please young readers. I also enjoyed the occasional sound effects, rendered in a different font, like the sneeze of a cold turtle (who clearly needs some mittens for warmth).
The illustrations are hilarious. They're done in watercolor and dip pen in India ink, in a wide array of colors. The ever-increasing mountain of mittens is a triumph, a jumble of colors showing the endless variety of mittens that kids might wear. Molly is quite likable, with scraggly auburn braids, an elf-like hat, and a happy smile. Her teacher, Mr. Jolly, wears a purple shirt and pants with bizarre saw-toothed stripes - quite a character. The funniest picture, I think, is one in which Molly's parents decide to attach her mittens with Velcro. She walks out of the house with several toys, and the dog, also Velcro-ed to her jacket.
With fall approaching, I think that A Mountain of Mittens will be an excellent choice for preschool and early elementary school kids (especially those living in colder climates, and familiar with mittens). The inventive wordplay and entertaining pictures are sure to please kids. The book also offers enough detail and humor to keep adults on board through multiple readings.