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Once upon a time there was a woman who was sad because she had no children. One day she planted a magic seed and from the seed grew a flower. Inside the flower was a tiny, exquisite girl no bigger than the woman's thumb. Her name was Thumbelina.

The two lived happily together until an ugly old toad snuck in and snatched Thumbelina away. So ...
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Once upon a time there was a woman who was sad because she had no children. One day she planted a magic seed and from the seed grew a flower. Inside the flower was a tiny, exquisite girl no bigger than the woman's thumb. Her name was Thumbelina.

The two lived happily together until an ugly old toad snuck in and snatched Thumbelina away. So began Thumbelina's adventures in a world full of dangers for little people. Luckily, size isn't all that matters, and Thumbelina's kindness and courage bring her long-lasting happiness.

One of the most popular fairy tales ever written!

This classic edition pairs the complete, unabridged story translated by a distinguished Hans Christian Andersen authority with the picture-book debut of an accomplished artist. A perfect gift for the holidays!

*"A remarkable, lovely version of one of the author's most beloved tales. . ."
--School Library Journal, starred review

After being kidnapped by an ugly toad, a beautiful girl no bigger than a thumb has a series of dreadful experiences before meeting a fairy prince just her size.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two-time Caldecott Honor artist Pinkney (The Faithful Friend; Duke Ellington) presents a visually snappy adaptation of this Hans Christian Andersen tale. Rendered in colored inks on clay board, the wispy art accentuates the natural setting among pond reeds and flower stalks, and features a sunny palette punctuated by electric hues. This Thumbelina, a black child who springs from a gold and flame-red blossom, spends her days floating on a tulip petal, "rowing on a little lake that was really a bowl of water decorated with flowers." In a rather choppy narrative, the author chronicles the tiny heroine's adventures after she is kidnapped by a toad (who sports a gaily patterned kerchief and has spectacles perched on her nose). Pinkney whimsically depicts the animal friends who in turn help Thumbelina escape from her captors, offer her shelter and whisk her away from the mole fianc she does not love into the arms of the dashing, equally diminutive king of the flower people. Despite some stilted prose (e.g., "Thumbelina was glad to agree"), the imaginative illustrations gives this chestnut a fresh look. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This is a sweet and gentle retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's well-known tale of a thumb size young girl who appears magically in a flower. In her adventures she is captured by a mother toad, a June bug, and survives the winter by staying with a field mouse. Finally, she is delivered from marrying a grumpy mole by a cheerful sparrow and transported to happiness in the kingdom of flowers. The pastel-toned pictures complement this retelling, however it lacks excitement and Thumbeline desperately needs some gumption. In an age where girls are encouraged to be creative, energetic and intelligent in order to reach their goals, Thumbeline is a bland role model. Previously released in 1980 in Switzerland, this retelling would make a good calm bedtime story. Librarians may want to add this to their collection, if only to compare it with other versions of this familiar fairy tale. 2000, (orig. 1980), North-South Books, Ages 5 to 10, $15.95. Reviewer: Wendy Pollock-Gilson—Children's Literature
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Hans Christian Anderson's poignant tale of a tiny girl kidnapped and trapped in the woods is retold here, flushed with violet-hued watercolors. Dizzying perspectives magnify wee Thumbelina's travails in the enormous world around her. Descriptive language breathes life into the adventures as she escapes her many captors and finally meets a whole society of folks her size.
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
The idea of teeny-tiny people enchanted me as a kid and I loved reading about Thumbelina, the girl who sprouted in a flowerpot and had to brave the huge, dangerous world before finding happiness with others her size. Erik Haugaard's unabridged translation of Hans Christian Anderson's Thumbelina captures the magical, musical quality of the original, with Arlene Graston's pastel-hued illustrations a lovely accompaniment.
Children's Literature
Thumbelina enjoys rowing her tulip petal boat in a bowl of water and sleeping in a polished walnut shell. But one night while she is sleeping a toad steals her away with the intent of having her for a daughter-in-law. Thumbelina escapes that fate with the help of some fish and a butterfly, only to find herself lost in the woods. A kindly field mouse takes her in when winter arrives and then begins planning for Thumbelina to marry her neighbor, the mole. A bird that Thumbelina has befriended saves her just in time and flies her to a beautiful field of flowers. The flower people welcome her and the flower king asks her to be his bride. Charming, full-color illustrations fill the pages. Thumbelina's small size is accentuated as she is shown tiny and dainty next the frog, the mouse, and the mole. These lovely illustrations bring new life to this familiar tale. 2003, Greenwillow Books, Ages 6 to 11.
— Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
This beautifully illustrated retelling of Andersen's classic tale from the "We Both Read" series is surely to become a favorite. The series is written so that an adult and child can read designated parts, sharing the storytelling. The child-marked sections are short sentences, many of which repeat words from the adult section. Words that may be new or difficult for new readers are highlighted in bold in both the adult and child sections. The book is faithful to Andersen's story. What sets this version apart are the illustrations. The watercolor and pencil illustrations seem to bring the story off the page. Character facial expressions are easy to read, the colors change dramatically from the cheerful green forest to the mole's dark underground lair, and the lines are so fluid the drawings flow from one page to the next. The two-reader format is a great invitation for parent and child to read together, but this would also be a favorite for parent to read to child. If you do not have a beautiful version of Thumbelina on your shelf, get this one adapted by Sindy McKay. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
Thumbelina is born from a witch's barleycorn seed, stolen by a plotting toad-in-law, and rescued by a butterfly, only to be overworked by Mrs. Fieldmouse. Always, always the dutiful girl, Thumbelina works at music and spinning, does the housework, and endures her betrothal to the Man in Grey, a most unappealing mole. Even when given the chance at freedom by a swallow whose life she has saved, she loyally chooses to stay with Mrs. Fieldmouse. On her wedding day, Thumbelina can no longer abide the sunless, underground future she faces, so she accepts the swallow's offer and escapes to the community of Crystal Fairies, where she marries the king and lives happily with her own kind. This retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic story is updated with modern language such as references to water-skiers and the phrase, "She wanted a baby real bad." Readers may appreciate the casual style of the story, because it makes it more accessible, but it loses some of the magic of traditionally told fairy tales. Rich illustrations, mostly double spreads, depict Thumbelina with large, expressive eyes and often forlorn expressions, and her smallness is accentuated by the elements of the natural world that surround her. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-- A credible translation of Andersen's Thumbelina. Although rather formal in tone, lacking the immediacy of Haugaard's colloquial language in Hans Christian Andersen: His Classic Fairy Tales (Doubleday, 1978), Riordan's smooth retelling presents the entire story without deviations or sweetening touches. In watercolors that have an unearthly glow, Thumbelina is portrayed as a fey creature, existing in a world of nature and fantasy. The illustrations tread this fine line well, contrasting the solid earthy browns of the fieldmouse and the mole with the translucent yellow-greens of the heroine. Fanciful touches, such as spiders in four-armed waistcoats who spin a tiny wedding dress, add to the fantastic aspect, while close-ups of natural plants and animals ground it in reality. Many editions of this story are in print, but most, such as Amy Ehrlich's (Dial, 1979; o.p.), abridge the tale, changing important plot elements in the process. An interesting version. --Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Alderson's version of this oft-retold tale clips along at a breezy pace, retaining most of Andersen's detail. It heightens the role of the swallow a bit, identifying him at the outset as the narrator, in addition to his central role in liberating Thumbelina. "'That's where it all started,' said the swallow. That's where the woman went off to see the local witch. She wanted a baby real bad and thought the witch could help." And so, of course, the witch did help, giving the woman a barleycorn to plant in a pretty pot. Ibatoulline's fulsome paintings offer bold views of the natural world and the animals that the blond doll-like Thumbelina encounters. Most of the semi-realistic creatures have a cheerful semblance, though two of them—who are actually quite benign in the story—are a bit grotesque. The maybugs that carry Thumbelina off to their tree for a bit and the spiders who weave her wedding dress are drawn as very toothy animals. All look as if they're wearing prominent dentures. The large views and well-paced text will work well for reading aloud in group settings. The book stands nicely with editions by other artists, tellers, and translators.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This greatly abridged retelling joins many versions in recent years, both single volumes and in collections of Andersen's work. It is told in simplified language and vocabulary, minimizing many of the darker elements of the tale. Unfortunately, it begins rather abruptly and some of the emotional content is lessened. Pinkney uses colored inks on clay board to illustrate the story with vibrant colors, large shapes, and sketch-type outlines. The artwork, while certainly bold and engaging, does not meld well with the delicate and fragile nature of the original story. Still, since it is so visually different from other retellings, comparison among them would be an interesting student activity. The book's format is large and would work well for group sharing.-Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pint-sized Thumbelina faces danger and despair as she searches for true love. She grows from a bud, "no bigger than your thumb," after her mother pleads with the witch for a child. When she is kidnapped to be married to the ugly Toadikins, Thumbelina's weeping brings a multitude of characters to her aid. She then nurses a swallow to health, and he helps her avoid marriage to the dismal mole, the Man in Grey. Thin lines and dynamic colors portray the wispy and fair Thumbelina. Ibatoulline deftly balances darkness and light to convey Thumbelina's quest for happiness, her expressive eyes giving her emotional depth. Emphasizing perspective, rich acryl gouache-and-watercolor spreads illustrate both vast outdoor scenes and intimate abodes. Alderson's conversational tone brings warmth to the tale, and lively dialogue develops the characters. "Now don't be obstropolous," says Mrs. Mouse. "Otherwise I shall bite you with my little white teeth." A cozily satisfying rendition of the classic. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)
From the Publisher
Singing Light:
Snow White and Rose Red by Kallie George and Kelly Vivanco: I’ve loved the illustrations I’ve seen from Vivanco, and her art here was simply gorgeous. Also, Snow White and Rose Red is a favorite fairy tale of mine and there haven’t been many picture book editions (that I know of).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781925186031
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2015
  • Series: World Classics
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 465,769
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), Danish author and poet, wrote numerous poems, plays, stories and travel essays, but is best known for his fairy tales.
He wrote over one hundred and fifty, published in numerous collections during his life, and many still in print today.


Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark, to a poor family. He left home as a 14-year-old to seek his fortune at the theatre in Copenhagen. Andersen began writing plays and poetry before he left for Copenhagen, but it was not until 1835 that he published the first of the fairytales that would bring him international renown. Since then, his over 200 fairytales have enjoyed undiminished popularity, providing the basis for favorite American interpretations such as Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Biography courtesy of HarperCollins

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 2, 1805
    2. Place of Birth:
      Odense, Denmark
    1. Date of Death:
      August 4, 1875
    2. Place of Death:
      Copenhagen, Denmark

Read an Excerpt

Once upon a time there was a woman whose only desire was to have a tiny little child. Now she had no idea where she could get one, so she went to an old witch and asked her: "Please, could you tell me where I could get a tiny little child? I would so love to have one."

"That is not so difficult," said the witch. "Here is a grain of barley; it is not the kind that grows in the farmer's fields or that you can feed to the chickens. Plant it in a flowerpot and watch what happens."

Excerpted from Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen. Translation copyright (c) 1974 by Erik Haugaard. Illustrations copyright (c) 1996 by Arlene Graston. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful story!

    Beautiful story!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2013

    Beautiful illustrations - always a good thing for the little ones, to follow along when you read the story to them.

    Lovely book - a Christmas gift for my 4 yr old great-granddaughter. I'm positive she will "read" it many times!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    This Thumbellina m


    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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