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Thumbelina, Tiny Runaway Bride    by Barbara Ensor order for
Thumbelina, Tiny Runaway Bride
by Barbara Ensor
Order:  USA  Can
Schwartz & Wade, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This engaging retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale takes Thumbelina's own viewpoint and includes many entries from the tiny young woman's diary. It includes pictures made in the same way that Andersen did, 'by cutting up pieces of black paper with scissors'.

In her Prologue, the author tells us that she hopes this version of Thumbelina, Tiny Runaway Bride 'will show her to be so much more than a cute little plaything' and encourages the reader to try to step into the girl's miniscule shoes. She tells us how Anne Marie, who badly wanted a baby to love, found help from a witch, who - for a fee - gave her a seed, which quickly grew into a puffy pink flower that opened to reveal 'a teeny girl on a small green stool.'

Though Thumbelina yearned to play outside, her giantess of a Mum was very protective of her, seeing dangers everywhere. But finally, one summer evening, she allowed her to sleep in her walnut-shell bed on the porch - which is, of course, when Thumbelina's well known adventure - filled with wannabe bridgegrooms - begins. The first in line is a mama's boy of a toad who imprisons her on a lily pad. A sympathetic school of fish nibble on its stem anchor, releasing the small girl on a leafy boat.

We see our young heroine learning all about the natural world, encountering both allies and dangers, through summer days. With the onset of winter, Thumbelina takes refuge in an underground mousehole, working as a servant and telling stories to the lady mouse's gentleman caller, Mr. Mole. Unfortunately, the latter is so enchanted by Thumbelina's stories that he decides to transfer his attentions to the maid instead of her mistress (who's not too happy about this development).

Luckily, Thumbelina finds and thaws a frozen swallow who flies her out of this predicament, and takes her to the place where she meets the king of the flowers - which is where Andersen ended his story. But Barbara Ensor, who feels strongly that 'Thumbelina would never up and marry a man she hardly knew ... no matter how many crowns he wore on his head', writes a different ending to her version. Read it yourself - and enjoy!

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