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Tom Thumb
     

Tom Thumb

by Richard Jesse Watson
 

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When Charles S. Stratton was born in 1838, he was a large baby, perfect in every way. But then he stopped growing. At age four, though a happy and mischievous child, he was just over two feet tall and weighed only fifteen pounds—the exact same size he had been as a seven-month-old baby. It was then that the notorious showman P.T. Barnum dubbed him Tom Thumb

Overview

When Charles S. Stratton was born in 1838, he was a large baby, perfect in every way. But then he stopped growing. At age four, though a happy and mischievous child, he was just over two feet tall and weighed only fifteen pounds—the exact same size he had been as a seven-month-old baby. It was then that the notorious showman P.T. Barnum dubbed him Tom Thumb and put him on display, touring him around the world as a curiosity.
A natural performer, Charley became enormously popular and wealthy, more so than any other performer before him. In this spirited biography—the first on its subject—George Sullivan recounts the fascinating adventures of Tom Thumb, and raises challenging questions about what constitutes exploitation—both in the 19th century and today.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well organized and clearly written, this solid biography offers a vivid portrayal of Stratton and makes a strong case for Tom Thumb as America’s first celebrity."—Booklist, starred review

"Tom's personal and professional relationships with Barnum make this biography a superb complement to Candace Fleming's The Great and Only Barnum (2009)."—Kirkus

"While Sullivan touches on the subject of exploitation and the limited understanding of dwarfism in Stratton's era, his subject emerges not as a victim but as an individual whose talents earned him the public's admiration and a place in history."— Publishers Weekly

"Sullivan does a commendable job of placing his biographical subject in the context of his times (nearly the whole of the nineteenth century), bringing both to life in an engaging text complemented with black-and-white photographs."—The Horn Book

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The story of Tom Thumb is well-known: a poor, childless farmer and his wife feed a raggedy beggar (who is really Merlin), and he rewards them with a son the size of the husband's thumb. The farmer and his wife name their son Tom Thumb, and try to protect him from the perils of the world. Tom Thumb, however, gets into many dangerous situations--he is baked in a cake, eaten by a cow, stolen by a crow, swallowed by a giant and eventually imprisoned in a mouse trap. But with the help of the castle mice, Tom escapes and saves the kingdom from destruction. As a reward, King Arthur gives Tom all the gold he wants, to take back to his parents, and makes Tom the smallest Knight of the Round Table. Watson, who last illustrated James Dickey's Bronwen, the Traw, and the Shape Shifter , has woven--with occasional stiffness--several of Tom's familiar adventures into a single telling. That minor failing is compensated for by Watson's full-color, realistic artwork; in startling perspectives and several striking close-ups, he transports the reader fully into Tom's thumb-sized world. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-- Although it is not stated, this is a loose adaptation of an English variant of the tale. All of the beginning plot elements--Merlin's granting the farmer's wife's wish for a ``babe'' even if it's no bigger than her husband's thumb, Tom Thumb being baked into a cake, carried off by a raven, swallowed by a giant, spit into the sea, and swallowed by a fish, which is cut open by the king's cook, who brings Tom to King Arthur--are also related in L. Leonard Brooke's version of ``Tom Thumb'' found in The Golden Goose Book (Warne, 1977; o.p.). However, Watson's heroic ending, in which Tom Thumb replaces the giant's beloved broken shell, is not mentioned in other variants available. The writing borders on the flowery, but is quite readable. The realistic, microscopically detailed tempera and watercolor illustrations are particularily suitable for this tale. The tiny Tom Thumb would see every hair on a cow's head, and the mobile made of an acorn, a jay's feather, twigs, and leaves hanging over a tiny wooden cradle is an enchanting reminder of just how small Tom really is. The illustrations' perspectives are generally successful and interesting. The subject and these illustrations will ensure this book's popularity with young readers and their parents. Felix Hoffman's Tom Thumb (Atheneum, 1973; o.p.) is based on the Brothers Grimm version. --Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152892814
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
08/28/1993
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.17(d)
Lexile:
1010L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Well organized and clearly written, this solid biography offers a vivid portrayal of Stratton and makes a strong case for Tom Thumb as America’s first celebrity."—Booklist, starred review

"Tom's personal and professional relationships with Barnum make this biography a superb complement to Candace Fleming's The Great and Only Barnum (2009)."—Kirkus

"While Sullivan touches on the subject of exploitation and the limited understanding of dwarfism in Stratton's era, his subject emerges not as a victim but as an individual whose talents earned him the public's admiration and a place in history."— Publishers Weekly

"Sullivan does a commendable job of placing his biographical subject in the context of his times (nearly the whole of the nineteenth century), bringing both to life in an engaging text complemented with black-and-white photographs."—The Horn Book

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