This is a page from a dimly remembered childhood picture book called The Magic Glove (or The Magic Mitten). It is based on a Ukrainian folk tale and was translated into English by Irina Zheleznova and illustrated by Evgenii Rachev.
The story begins…
An old man was walking through the forest one day with his Dog. He walked and he walked and he dropped his mitten…
A mouse comes along and makes his home in the glove, and, one by one, ever bigger and bigger animals turn up to join Crunch-Munch the mouse who welcomes them all in to the cosy interior of the mitten.
The glove mysteriously manages to accommodate them all, their common need to be warm and hyggelig in the cold winter overriding their natural differences.
I always thought of this magic glove as being somehow like my parents’ bed, where we would climb in on cold mornings and get toasty warm together – we probably read this book there too, reinforcing the connection in my mind between story and family.
I looked for it on and off over the years in secondhand bookshops and then one day came across the Booksleuth forum on Abebooks, a wonderful place where you can go and post messages saying ” I read a book which had a magic glove and it has characters called Smily-Wily the Fox and Hop Stop the Frog” and someone, somewhere knows, or has a good guess at what that book was. It’s a great game and test of your memory too, I found myself making suggestions at the same time.
Once you have a good idea of the title and author then you can post a ‘Want it’ on Abebooks and if it turns up in a secondhand book store or if it is listed on their huge site, you’re sorted! I’ve found all sorts of lost book treasure that way in the last few years. The Internet at its best is the most amazing Magic Glove! I found the cover of my Moomin book for the Piima bread post through the Internet and people are in general so helpful, even though we are strangers to one another. It’s as if we are all enthused with the magic of the connections offered to us in this extraordinary way. This post is beginning to sound suspiciously like Thought for the Day, so I think I’ll stop now…
Have you got any search tips or absolutely favourite sites that have helped you find something special?
Edit: I’ve looked up the illustrator, Evgenii Rachev – there’s a retrospective of some of his work here and if you go to this lovely site created by his son-in-law you can read the whole story and see all the illustrations, not just the ones I’ve scanned in here from my copy and two other stories online. There’s lots of information about Rachev here whose illustrations are in museums now. It’s amazing what you find when you start looking!