One mitten, seven animals, three versions.


Fairy tale lovers know that one fairy tale can have many versions. The reason for that is simple. Once upon a time, those listening to a folk tale did not have it as their primary goal to remember the tale by heart. So when later retelling that tale to others they would add a detail or two of their own. If their memory betrayed them they would make up their own ending and so on. Obviously, we are talking about the times before it became popular among ethnographers to record the folklore materials, before publishers decided that it would be worthwhile to spare some costly paper to publish the tales and in the days before the times of smart-phones and all the other wonderful recording technology.

“The Mitten”, a Ukrainian fairy tale

Let’s briefly look at a Ukrainian folk tale “The Mitten”. This tale is more popular than some other Ukrainian fairy tales. In 2001 the Ukrainian government released a stamp featuring “The Mitten” characters. “The Mitten” has been translated into a number of languages. They include German, English and Japanese. At least four adaptations have been published in English. Sova Books published its version of “The Mitten” in 2018, with the original illustrations by Svitlana Soldatova.

Many versions of one tale

Most of the versions of this fairy tale have a common storyline (the ending usually differs). It’s about a man who looses his mitten. Then, one by one, various animals inside it with an intention to live there. There are 5 main differences between Sova Books version of “The Mitten” and the classic versions of the fairy tale recorded by Pavlo Chubynsky (1878) and Ivan Rudchenko (1870).

Incidentally, one feature which is common to all three of the versions of “The Mitten” mentioned is the use of nicknames with reference to the animals in the story, as for example: “Sneaky the Fox” and “Stalky the Wolf”.

We love our fairy tales and shall continue publishing articles on them here. Please stay tuned. 🙂