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Jessy Scarpone

Our Latest Recommendation for Lil’ Sprouts Book Club: Remembering Thumbelina

Lil’ Sprouts Book Club is a monthly Garden Collage feature where we spotlight nature- and garden-related books for kids age 2 and up that encourage green education. The books are designed to evoke the core mission of Garden Collage: to bring the garden (and nature) into people’s lives.

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In the spirit of this month’s theme of Garden’s Little Helpers, we’re spotlighting the children’s classic “Thumbelina,” by Hans Christian Andersen (which is called “Tommelise” in the original Dutch version). First published in 1835, the story was made famous for new generations both by the iconic, lifelike Thumbelina doll released in the 1960s, and by the 1994 Disney film of the same name, which starred the likes of Carol Channing, John Hurt, Charo, and Gilbert Gottfried.

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Inspired by various literary sources— ranging from Jonathan Swift’s iconic Gulliver’s Travels to Voltaire’s short story “Micromégas”– “Thumbelina” tells the tale of a tiny fairy girl who grows from a tulip and is carried off on various adventures. Her story is closely tied to nature, as the majority of the other characters are animals, and familiar natural elements are transformed by her diminutive stature (she uses a rose petal as a quilt and a polished walnut shell as a bed).

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Jessy Scarpone

Andersen’s stories are often credited with redefining the genre of children’s stories, and Thumbelina is no exception. As a writer, he skillfully invokes a sense of wonder at seeing the world through such small eyes, managing to capture the excitement that children have when exploring the garden. As summer approaches– and with it the full, magnificent bloom of nature– “Thumbelina” encourages Lil’ Sprouts (and adults!) to seek out adventure in their own backyards.

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