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Thumbelina



Last updated Friday, August 7, 2009

Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrator: Brad Sneed
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0803728123
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2009

Synopsis: Hans Christian Andersen's tale of a thumb-size girl forcibly betrothed to a series of forest creatures is strange, vaguely sinister, and perennially fascinating, and Sneed's interpretation reflects all these qualities. His text cleaves closely to the original, tracing Thumbelina's journey from the clutches of a calculating mother toad, a greedy beetle, a demanding mouse, and a mole with marriage on the mind. His dramatic watercolors don't sweep the story's cautionary aspects under the rug; the slightly distorted compositions and striking chiaroscuro effects amplify the threats Thumbelina encounters and deepen the relief when the happy ending arrives. Point out the lighthearted portrait of Andersen on the last page; children will be amused by the emphasis Sneed places on the storyteller's famously large nose. -Booklist

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary: toad, lily pad, nibble, downstream, fluttered, lighted (landed), sash beetle, feelers (antennae), exclaimed, dejected, insult, dew stubble, snug, den, timidly, morsel, supper, grumpy, dwelling, dreadful nursed, dutifully, chores, humble (modest), pig-headed, velvets, fortune, protested ruins, clustered, pillars, enchanted, disagreeable, rejoicing

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How do you feel about big people moving you around?
•  Can you swim?
•  What’s a marsh? How would it be like to live under the marsh?
•  How does it feel like to be insulted?
•  What is ugly?
•  What is a thump, thumb sound?
•  How do you feel about doing chores?
•  Has anyone ever wanted you to do something you didn’t want to do?
•  Have you ever wanted to run away?
•  How would it be like to ride a flying bird?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Thumbelina (2" high) with or without wings. After you make Tumbelina, make some of her friends. Make a butterfly, a frog, flowers or something else.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!