Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thumbody's Thumbelina

Sylvia Long (Chronicle, 2011)

I remember our family copy of Thumbelina, a photographed board book with dolls positioned in little dioramas on every page, greatly abridged. Alas, that was my introduction to Thumbelina. Until I saw Sylvia Long's version (left) I hadn't realized what a wealth of imagery the Hans Christian Andersen tale provides. How beautiful and entrancing some of these images can be in the hands of a skilled illustrator!

Andersen's story was first published in Denmark (naturally) in 1835, with the original Danish title, Tommelise. Below is an 1837 edition of Eventyr, fortalte for Børn, in which Tommelise appeared:

Here's a slightly more recent version:

Tommelise (Tiden, 1967)

And there are hundreds of other covers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've gathered a few of each below, with brief commentary.

Interesting backdrop for this easy reader:




But then there's this. The cover says this book is meant for "Creative Character Building." I suppose that's true if the character you hope to build is lonely and sullen:

Graphically interesting version below, but a silhouette doesn't really bring out that Thumbelina charm, does it?

What is she staring at?

Another early reader version:

In French, pouce means "thumb," so this is the little female thumb girl, La Poucette:


Interesting, but not particularly pretty:

Too cute. No, really. This is sickeningly cute:

Poucette sophisticate:

Um. Wow, a comic book. So true to the original tale [sarcasm]:

The thought that this (below) may become some child's introduction to Thumbelina gives me a sick headache:

Do you remember what image graced the cover of your childhood Thumbelina?

P.S. Sorry about the silly title for this post~CB


  1. I don't remember, but now I really want to search and find out. I also loved the story of Tom Thumb, maybe even more.

  2. my family copy was not among those here, and i ended up traveling down a rabbit hole looking for it and its sister. the golden press, mid 1960s did a whole series of large (10 x 12) harcover storybooks illustrated with puppet photos and included a 3d-like cover as shown here.


  3. That's it! That's the one we had, except ours had the corners chewed off by my dog.