Imagine a tiny little girl, no bigger than the size of a thumb! Now imagine how strange and scary the world must seem to her. Thumbelina is snatched from her home by a toad, who wished to marry her off to his son. But this is not the end of her misfortune; upon her adventures she meets beetles, a catfish, a butterfly, a mouse, a bird and many others. Some of the animals are kind and friendly, while others are decidedly less so. What will happen to poor tiny Thumbelina? Will she ever find her way home, how will she deal with various proposals of marriage, and what will she make of this enormous world and all of its many dangers? This classic tale shows us that with a big heart, anything is possible!
“Oh, even if she were the smallest child in the world, as small as a grain of rice, it would not matter, for I would still love her with all my heart,” she sighed. But time passed, year followed year, and still she remained sad and a little bit lonely.
One day the young woman visited a fairy, for she did not know where else to turn. The fairy gave her a tiny seed as small as a grain of barley and offered her these words of wisdom:
“But this is no ordinary seed; you must plant it carefully in a pot, nourish it, care for it and above all cherish it, and your dream will surely come true. But beware: One day it will be time for the child to go away; you must accept this and not be sad.”
The happy woman thanked her, carefully wrapped the little seed in a handkerchief and went back home. She planted the magic seed in the most beautiful pot she could find and placed it in the sun and sprinkled some water upon it. Very soon a strong green shoot began to grow and grow; it soon became a huge red flower. Suddenly, to the woman’s astonishment and delight, a tiny, tiny young girl peeped out from among the petals of the flower, with golden blond hair with a little blue bow.
She was beautiful and cheerful; the woman loved her just as a mother loves her child.
“I will call you Thumbelina because you are no taller than my thumb,” said the delighted woman. She made her a bed out of a walnut shell and sewed beautiful little dresses.
She played with her every day, and the girl danced, sang and laughed merrily. Thumbelina’s favorite game was to float on a tulip petal in a deep dish filled with water. In the evenings when Thumbelina lay in her tiny cozy bed, the young woman told her stories about handsome princes, brave knights and terrible dragons. The girl would fall asleep dreaming of castles, glittering balls and banquets, and a handsome prince, kind and wise, as if from a fairy tale.
But back to reality! It happened that an old toad lived nearby and was looking for a wife for his own son. One day he saw little Thumbelina, and he could not believe his luck.
“Oh, what a lovely girl she is! She will make a perfect wife for my son!” he croaked excitedly.
So the toad hid in the garden under the window until nightfall. When darkness fell and the household sunk into the warm blanket of slumber, the toad jumped through the broken window, right into Thumbelina’s bedroom. He gently picked up the sleeping girl and brought her to the stream. He hopped onto a huge water lily pad, which was floating by, and he lay the sleeping girl down. He was in a hurry to show his son his future wife, so he hopped away to fetch him.
When they returned, Thumbelina woke up and rubbed her eyes. Could she believe what she was seeing? Were there really an old toad and his son, proudly standing over her and peering quizzically?
“Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit!” exclaimed the son with delight. But that was all toad junior could say, for so beautiful was Thumbelina that he was almost speechless; he just sat gazing at her lovingly!
Luckily, the old toad still had the power of speech! He rubbed his webbed hands together and croaked:
“Well, well, we must prepare the wedding! And you, my sweet little bride, you may sit quietly here. Would you like some fresh flies to eat while you wait?”
But Thumbelina’s expression of disgust told him that this was perhaps not the best time for dead insects, even if they were fresh!
Illustrations and cover
English Translation and Adaptation:
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© Copyright by TOMMYE-MUSIC
New York 2012