Of the various versions of this old Hans Christian Anderson tale, this rendition by Brad Sneed follows the original pretty closely. I will admit right off that this is not my favorite piece by Anderson, for various reasons, but that should not distract me, or anyone else for this fine bit of work that Anderson has turned out.
As with the original tale, our diminutive young girl begins life inside a flower. Being only about the size of a persons thumb when she is fully grown, opens a world to her that we bigger people can hardly imagine and along with that problems, that while may not be exactly what we might encounter, still reflect some of the dangers faced even today.
As the story unfolds, our little Thumbelina is rather sought after by an array of creatures who want to marry her. First a toad with a manipulative mother, then a rather unattractive greedy beetle and a very pushy mouse wanting to act as a marriage broker for a rather obnoxious mole; all come and go from our little girls life as she more or less is caught up like the feather flitting here and there in the movie, Forrest Gump. Her will really has nothing to do with it and she is rather the victim in each scenario. All through this story there is a rather unsaid dark side and you sort of feel the presence of evil or at least sinister intentions from all sides. I suppose that is the aspect of this story that I find a bit unsettling at times. I hate to add a spoiler here, but things do turn out just fine in the end; at least fine by the standards of the era in which it was written.
Brad Sneed has spruced up the language in this work and picked up the pace somewhat, but as I said, he has been quite true to the original story. The wonderful water colors make this work stand out from many other versions of this story. As a matter of fact, this work is worth checking out just to study the paintings. The only aspect of the work I did not much care for was Sneed's portal of Thumbelina herself. He had given her a rather modern flavor; a rather underfed anorexic look that one might see on one of the models used in a blue jean add of the 1980s or 90s...not a healthy look as far as I am concerned. I have never been a fan of the "Heroin Sheek" look. This was a work that originated in Europe in around 1835 and while I don't feel it is necessary to stick with the costume and body style of that era, I do feel the work would have been a bit more realistic as our litter heroine would have fit in with the other characters a bit better. The rest of the art work though is quite stunning, stunning to the point of being one of the better illustrated children's books available today.
This is a good book and a good story. The parent looking for a good read for their child might keep in mind that this is a rather long story so it does take some time to go through, so if the parent has a short attention span, they should think before purchasing this one.
I am giving this one five stars, but should knock one off simply due to the fact that there is a dark side to this story that is difficult to put your finger on and for the fact that I was not overly thrilled with the way Thumbelina was pictured. The kids seem to love the work though and I suppose that is what counts...to a certain extent and as I said, I try not to let my personal prejudices down play what is really a well done work.