From School Library Journal
Grade 3–5—In this retelling, Hans Christian Andersen's original tale gets a little padding, some reinterpretation, and a format makeover into an early chapter book. The changes include expanding the role of Thumbelina's mother, making Thumbelina a bit more assertive, assigning the mouse a case of unrequited love, and adding an epilogue with an alternate ending. The basics, including Thumbelina's adventures and suitors, remain the same, even retaining language alluding to Denmark and references that create a historical context (e.g., mention of a dowry). Old-fashioned-looking black-and-white silhouettes break up the text. Neither the caliber of the writing nor the illustrations make this an essential purchase. The novel format may tempt fairy and princess fans who have moved on to longer fiction. Otherwise, libraries that own good versions of the tale, such as Lauren Mills's Thumbelina (Little, Brown, 2005), could pass on this one.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
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In this light, charming retelling of Andersen’s classic fairy tale, Ensor focuses on Thumbelina’s engagements, with an alternative ending that many girls will relish. Ensor allows modern sensibilities to peek through as she embroiders the original tale. The witch who gives Thumbelina’s mother the seed from which Thumbelina is born sounds “like Anne Marie’s high-school math teacher.” The epilogue tartly informs readers, “Now you know exactly what happened and can write a book report, if you need to do that, or count this as part of your summer reading list.” The expanded dialogues work well: the toads are especially fun, and direct comments and questions to the reader are engaging and effective. The strong feminist perspective will delight young readers, who may have been puzzled by Thumbelina’s passivity in the original version, and the story also encourages empathy for individuals whose options are narrowed by their particular environment, culture, or history. Black-and-white paper-cut illustrations, like those Andersen himself made, and Thumbelina’s diary entries round out this slight but satisfying addition to the retold fairy-tale genre. Grades 2-5. --Debbie Carton