Thumbelina (We Both Read Series)

Thumbelina (We Both Read Series)

by Sindy McKay, Quentin Greban, Hans Christian Andersen

is no bigger
than your thumb!

Thumbelina is content to spend her days rowing in a boat made from a tulip petal and sleeping in a cradle made from a polished walnut shell. Then one horrible night a toad kidnaps her, and she is tossed from one wretched adventure to another.

Will Thumbelina be forced to


is no bigger
than your thumb!

Thumbelina is content to spend her days rowing in a boat made from a tulip petal and sleeping in a cradle made from a polished walnut shell. Then one horrible night a toad kidnaps her, and she is tossed from one wretched adventure to another.

Will Thumbelina be forced to marry the toad's son or spend her days deep underground with a rich mole? Only her steadfast kindness and bravery and the help of some loyal friends will lead Thumbelina to true love.

Two-time Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney's adaptation of the classic tale vividly captures the dramatic journey and quiet strength of Hans Christian Andersen's tiny heroine.

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
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3
The format into which this beloved fairy tale has been shaped has short blocks of text, meant to be read aloud by a parent sitting with a child, interspersed with single sentences or sentence fragments made up of one- or two-syllable words in a large font for youngsters to read. Since most of the text is intended to be read by an adult, there is a question as to whether or not the adaptation of Andersen's original work really needed to be so simplified, with little or none of the romantic atmosphere remaining. The illustrations are far more effective and evocative than the text (aside from the one that shows Thumbelina being flown over a modern city of high-rise structures). Gréban has preserved the delicate fairy-tale setting of the story while emphasizing its emotional transitions by the use of different qualities of light-the cold pale gray of the snowy winter, the warm brown of the cozy mouse dwelling, the light sifting through the soft green spring leaves of the tree where Thumbelina talks with the swallow. Still, the choppiness that results from trying to make this an interactive reading experience does not do Andersen's tale justice.
—Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Minor details and most of Andersen's literary flourishes have been cut out of this shortened version, but the essential plot is intact. Grown from a magic seed, Thumbelina is repeatedly kidnapped for her beauty, escapes two forced-marriage attempts with the help of animal friends, and finally consents to wed the king of the flower people, because "he was the right husband for her." Pinkney places his tall (about three inches-or triple her size in the original), graceful, cinnamon-skinned figure within close-up natural landscapes, vibrantly depicted in warm browns and golds with short, thick, curving brushstrokes. Though Thumbelina is not the most active or independent-minded of role models, she does have plenty of adventures, and the sense of self-possession that she radiates in every scene is never shaken by events. And even though her eye makeup looks like it was laid on with a trowel, the preciousness that tends to infect other renditions of the tale is less evident in this readable adaptation. (Picture book/fairy tale. 8-10)

Product Details

Treasure Bay, Incorporated
Publication date:
We Both Read Series
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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.

Meet the Author

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.

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