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.
About the Author
George Sullivan is a best-selling nonfiction author with more than 100 books to his credit, including highly accoladed Berenice Abbott, Photographer. He lives in New York City.
What People are Saying About This
"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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Charles S. Stratton was dubbed Tom Thumb by P.T. Barnum at the age of five and that name stuck with him the rest of his life. This is a biography of Charles Stratton and to some extent that of P.T. Barnum as well. Their two lives became entertwined as Charles became more famous than anyone of the time could have realized. Many people believe he was exploited because of his diminutive size and others say that P.T. Barnum gave him something that he wouldn't have had otherwise, and Mr. Sullivan showed both sides of the story as well as the amazing adventures of Tom Thumb and Company.I thoroughly enjoyed this biography of a little person growing up in the entertainment business in the 19th century. Mr. Sullivan did an excellent job of sifting through countless documents and pictures and histories and coming up with this chronological book of events that shaped Charles Stratton and those around him. This biography read more like a book of fiction but with all of the accompanying documents and pictures a reader can come away with a clearer picture of the life of Charles S. Stratton. There is quite of bit of the history of P.T. Barnum and his struggles as an entrepreneur of the time and how he 'fooled' most people most of the time. Although this is classified for the middle school grades, I think those younger than 10 should be able to read this without much help and the topic of the book makes it suitable for adults as well. I'd suggest it for anyone who wants another view of the late 19th century or anyone who is curious about Tom Thumb and his life on stage and on display to the entire world.George Sullivan has written more than 100 nonfiction books and has probably been quoted in more book reports that wikipedia. I'll have to give this a 7 thumbs up out of 7. A great addition to your family library!I was given an e-copy of this book from HMH via NetGalley for review. No other compensation was given and I was not required to give a positive review.