PPBF: Thumbelina of Toulaba

Author: Daniel Picouly, after Hans Christian Andersen, transl. by Claudia Zoe Bedrick
 Olivier Tallec
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2007
Themes: fairy tale interpretations, girls, emotions

Opening: Once upon a time in Toulaba, a country at the far end of faraway, there lived a woman, young as the sweet breeze of spring and dark as the night when the moon merely smiles.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) In this retelling of the Andersen fairy tale, a tiny girl is stolen from her loving mother and many siblings, has adventures with a wise caiman, an injured bird of paradise, and other exotic creatures, and learns how to say no while fending off suitors. Includes a glossary of plants and animals.

I picked this book because: I picked it up because I am a big fan of Tallec’s work, but I really enjoyed the lyrical, almost folkloric feel in the telling. I like the fact that Thumbelina is much more in control of her destiny in this retelling. The vocabulary might be challenging to a group of older toddlers, so I might only read it to one or two on my lap so we can take the time to explain, but this would be great to use in an elementary classroom. And just gorgeous!

Resources/activities: read the original Andersen version if your kids are up for it; locate Martinique, where the author comes from, on a map, and Paris, where he lives now. List the animals in the book (both if you read another) and talk about which animals appeal to readers more and why. Would you have acted differently than Thumbelina in some instances?

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

2 thoughts on “PPBF: Thumbelina of Toulaba

  1. Oooh, this looks gorgeous! Of course it’s Enchanted Lion…Interesting to hear that Thumbelina has a little more agency in this one. I snagged the only copy in circulation in LINK+, my extended library system, but it won’t reach me until sometime in January!


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