Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 21, 2022

Book Giveaway: MISS MARY’S CHRISTMAS MITTENS by Trinka Hakes Noble

Trinka Hakes Noblehas written a new picture book, MISS MARY’S CHRISTMAS MITTENS, illustrated by Renee Andriani, and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Trinka and Renee.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


Miss Mary is beloved by her students. She makes learning enjoyable and easy, and her brightly colored knitwear brings a smile to everyone’s face. Walking to school on the last day before the Christmas break, Miss Mary envisions all the fun students will have at recess. They’ll make snow angels, build snowmen, and play other winter games. But recess isn’t fun. No one wants to play. The snow is cold and the children don’t have any mittens. Not to worry, thinks Miss Mary. She will knit mittens for her students as a Christmas surprise. But the store has run out of yarn, with no more deliveries before Christmas. Oh dear, where can Miss Mary find the yarn to knit mittens for her students? The clock is ticking on this holiday surprise. Brought to life in charming colorful artwork, this uplifting and gratifying story of generosity and love reminds readers of all ages that the best gifts come straight from the heart.


I firmly believe that some of the best people on earth are teachers, librarians and educators of children. So, it stands to reason that the first sentence in Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens is “Miss Mary was everyone’s favorite teacher.”  And one of those favorite teachers was my inspiration.

Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens book journey began some years ago, when I was a featured speaker at the New York State Reading Association Conference in Upstate New York.  As a fundraiser, the NYSRA Conference Committee had each presenting author and illustrator draw and autograph a quilt square, which they made into a beautiful patchwork quilt to be raffled off at the conference.  I drew a boa for The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash and an apple for Apple Tree Christmas.  After my presentation, I stopped by to see the finished quilt on display, and I was struck by what I saw!  For there, in the middle of a busy conference center, next to the quilt, sat a grandmotherly retired teacher in a rocking chair, knitting a woolen sock. The scene could have been a Norman Rockwell painting.  I was intrigued!  So, I asked about her knitting.

I learned that she was an avid knitter and a retired teacher who had taught first grade for many years. She went on to tell me that every year she knitted mittens for all her first graders for Christmas. But what she told me next touched my heart. Fast forward to when one of her little first grade boys was on his way to college.  As he and his mother were packing up and cleaning out his room, his mother found a small pair of hand knitted mittens in a bottom drawer. As the mother started to toss them into the discard box, her son yelled “NO Mom! Don’t throw those mittens away! My first grade teacher made them for me!”

The retired teacher’s eyes twinkled as she recounted this to me, and I could see in her face all the love she felt for every one of her first graders through the years.  Unbeknownst to her, a little flutter of a story entered this writer’s heart.

But the next leg of Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens journey wasn’t at all as sweet and charming as this first blush of a possible idea. Anything but!

Nevertheless, I began to see a possible old-fashioned Americana Christmas story and poetry seemed the befitting writing genre. I patterned by poetry with a similar cadence and rhyming pattern as the iconic T’was the Night Before Christmas, Samuel Clements’ beloved American Christmas classic. In my story, Miss Mary was a one-room schoolhouse teacher up in the snowy North Country.  I could see wintery Currier and Ives like scenes as illustrations, or maybe Grandma Moses style country illustrations.  I was in love with this idea. I could visualize it all in my artist’s eye as I wrote the story in poetry. And so, with great enthusiasm I had my agent send the manuscript to my long time publisher and other New York publishers.

It was rejected by all!

Not even a nibble, or requested second read. Nothing! I couldn’t understand why no one could see what I saw in this manuscript. So, alas, I put the manuscript on a shelf, the declined story shelf, in my studio, and there it sat for another year.

Now, you would think after forty years of writing and illustrating children’s books, with over thirty books published, that I would take rejections in stride, but you would be wrong. I don’t think we ever get use to having a manuscript turned down that you pour your heart and soul into, but you do learn how to move on.  And so, this leg of Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens, fraught with upheaval and deep disappointment, had come to an end. There would be no book.

But, alas, not all was lost! Sometime later, my wonderful editor, Barb McNally at Sleeping Bear Press, called to ask if anything had happened with the Miss Mary manuscript.  She had always liked the story idea, but didn’t think it worked in poetry, and asked if I’d be interested in rewriting it in prose.  Of course I said yes, but I had my doubts if I could let go of my original idea for this story and start anew. I have learned over the years that sometimes you need to trust an editor’s vision of your story, even if you are in doubt. I’ve also learned that editors are really smart, and usually know what they are talking about. One should always listen to one’s editor, even if you are not sure.

And so began a whole new journey for Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens! It was like starting a new and different story. It slipped into prose much easier than I thought and took on a life of its own, becoming more animated, livelier and child friendly for a younger audience. For the next year, I wrote and rewrote the story with Barb’s expert guidance, going through several revisions until it was submitted to acquisitions and was accepted by Sleeping Bear Press!

The next leg of Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens journey was to find the perfect illustrator, and I was delighted when Jennifer Bacheller, an outstanding book designer at Sleeping Bear Press, selected the very talented Renee Andriani.  The first step was to get the visual character of Miss Mary just right.  Renee generously gave us color sketches of three different possible Miss Mary characters to choose from.  We actually combined parts of two of the sketches, and there she was!  The perfect Miss Mary!  Renee went on to illustrate my story, infusing it with fresh energy in her child-friendly artwork. Renee’s art and my story fit together perfectly, like hand knitted Christmas mittens to warm your hands and heart.

In conclusion, I think a writer should never give up on a story, even if it ends up on your declined manuscript shelf like Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens did.  There was a pure and beautiful reason you wrote it, and that will always be there.


Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books.  The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, (ALA Notable, PBS Reading Rainbow feature, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA Children’s Choice, American Book Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), illustrated by Seven Kellogg, just celebrated its 39th year in print.  Three more Jimmy’s Boa books complete the series.  Meanwhile Back At The Ranch (PBS Reading Rainbow feature, American Book Award, Arizona Young Readers Award, North Dakota Flicker-Tail Award) is celebrating its 30th year in print.  Apple Tree Christmaswhich she wrote and illustrated, (Cricket Magazine, The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas, Junior Literary Guild Selection) is presently in a Holiday Classic edition.

Other titles include The Scarlet Stockings Spy(ILA Teacher’s Choice, Chicago’s Crystal Book Award of Excellence, Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award), The Last Brother(IPPY Award Bronze, PLA Carol Field Honor Book, Storytelling Magazine Honor Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), and The Orange Shoes (ILA Teacher’s Choice, NAPPA Honors, Jefferson Cup Award Nominee, CBC Best Books).

Her latest titles are The Legend of the Jersey Devil (2013), Lizzie and the Last Day of School (2015), The Legend of Sea Glass (2016), Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (Fall/2017) and A Fist for Joe Louis and Me (2019).  Her newest title is Miss Mary’s Christmas Mittens (2022).

Ms. Noble graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in painting, and went on to study children’s book writing and illustration in New York City at Parson’s School of Design, the New School University , Caldecutt medalist Uri Schulivitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University.

Ms. Noble is a board member of The New Jersey Center for the Book, The Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, The Author’s Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  In 2002, she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters from the state of New Jersey for her life-time work in children’s books along with letters of accommodation from The US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the US Congress.  She was also awarded Author of the Year, 2016/2017, by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.  She lives in a circa 1780 house in historic Northern New Jersey.  Learn more at


Renée Andriani grew up in Connecticut, attended Rhode Island School of Design to get her BFA. She has 32-plus years’ experience illustrated numerous titles for trade publishers and periodicals including Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Young Readers Group, Little, Dutton Chidren’s Books, Puffin Books, Brown & Company, HarperCollins, MB Publishing, and Hallmark Gift Books.

She also has illudtrated for educational media, periodicals, and serves as a graphic recorder, in the social expression industry and collaborates with organizations and their teams to create ‘visual stories’ that reflect meetings, brainstorms and published content.

Renée Andriani is the illustrator of six picture books for MB Publishing: A Gefilte Fishy Tale, Paris Hop!, Rome Romp!, No Naptime for Janie! A Hanukkah Tale, Bunny Romero’s White House Adventure: The Whole Megillah!, and A Home for Hope! Renée grew up in Connecticut and studied Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. Working in an array of media, including pen and ink, pencil, dye, watercolor, and digital, she has illustrated numerous other children’s books, including This School Year Will Be the Best! by Kay Winters, Don’t Know Much About the Fifty States by Kenneth C. Davis, and the Baby on the Way series by William and Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly. Her work also appears in magazines and on Hallmark’s Shoebox greeting cards. An avid hiker and cookie baker, she draws inspiration from doodling in her sketchbook, being outdoors, and hanging out with funny people. Renee lives in the Kansas City area. Visit her website.


Trinka, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love your journey with the book. You are so much like your character Miss Mary. You never gave up on Miss Mary and Miss Mary didn’t give up when obstacles were put in her way to making her class mittens. I love how the retired teacher shared her story of making mittens every year for her first graders and how she found out about one of her students whowas going off to college wanted to keep the kittens his mother was going to throw away. Those little mittens were still tresured years later. Such a great message and so wonderful that you shared that in the theme of this story. The best things in life come staright from the heart.

Renee’s illustrations are sweet and fun. They will keep kids wanting to read the book many times and maybe not want to give it up many years from now; just like the treasured mittens. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I was so happy to see that Trina Hakes Noble has written a new book, and also encouraged by her journey. She has long been a favorite of mine as a librarian. I used Applel Tree Christmas very often in my line-up of holiday stories, especially in neighborhoods where this was a new concept. Heartwarming is the word I would use for this new story, which I will need whether I win it or not. Thank you Trina, for warming my heart without having to pick up knitting needles. This one takes on special meaning as my daughter is a gifted knitter.
    ; )


    • Thanks, Lynne Marie! Hope you’ve had success with Fowl Humor!


    • Thanks, Linda Troft Dickman! What a lovely and meaningful response to my new book! So glad you use Apple Tree Christmas too! Wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations, Trinka and Rene! Trinka was my Critiquer / Mentor for Fowl Humor. She was great and I really appreciated her time and thoughts. [Newsletter Subscriber].


  3. I loved reading the backstory of this book’s journey. Congratulations, Trinka and Rene! Thanks for sharing. Very encouraging! I retweeted this post and get your blog daily, Kathy. Thanks!


    • Thanks so much, Kim!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, this story is adorable! I love it! (being a former kindergarten and preschool teacher-though I can barely knit and purl a straight line). Congratulations, Trinka and Renee!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post. 🙂


    • Thanks so much! Love that you are a former pre-K and Kindergarten teacher! Your opinion means a lot to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great story based on real life. As a former teacher, I can relate to the endless bounds you go through for your students. Congrats!


    • Thanks gayleckrause. I value your opinion and that you can relate to Miss Mary!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This book is heartwarming and reminds me of all my elementary school teachers who gave so much to their students. I adore the illustrations too. I enjoyed reading about how the book idea developed. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and tumblr.


    • Thanks, Danielle! So glad you liked Miss Mary, and that’s for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That a charming story! I can’t wait to read it. The illustrations are beautiful too. Thanks for telling me about it. I subscribe to your blog by email.


    • Thanks, rosilholinbeck! Good luck! Hope you win a Miss Mary book!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Miss Mary reminds me of my mother. She was always using yarn to create things for others. Like Miss Mary, I love every child I’ve taught. I connect with this book on several levels. Kids will too as they relate, thinking of a favorite teacher.


    • Ellie, I’m sure are a favorite teacher by all you students, just like Miss Mary! Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I often write in rhyme even though I know many in publishing don’t recommend it! Good for you finding a new way to tell the story!! Thanks for sharing the story’s journey and congrats!


    • Thanks, Hannah! It was hard to give up the rhyme, but as you can see, it was the right thing to do for Miss Mary. Best of luck with your writing!


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