cover image Sylvia Long's Thumbelina

Sylvia Long's Thumbelina

Sylvia Long, . . Chronicle, $17.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-5522-8

In Long's faithful retelling of Ander-sen's tale, the tiny Thumbelina is courted by a succession of appalling suitors—a toad, a beetle, and a pompous mole—but escapes a life of misery with the help of a swallow whose life she saved. Working in meticulously drafted ink and watercolor, Long (Because You Are My Baby ) lingers over Thumbelina's flower-petal and dried-leaf wardrobe, paints careful closeups of the swallow she cares for, and gives the spiders who help Thumbelina spin the flax for her wedding trousseau little knit sweaters. (Thumbelina herself is blonde and freckled; her California freshness is perhaps the book's only off note.) The prospect of a suffocating life underground—“Don't be stubborn or I shall bite you with my sharp teeth!” scolds the field mouse who acts as Thumbelina's guardian, irritated at her rejection of a secure marriage—is redeemed by Ander-sen's uncharacteristically happy ending, and Long celebrates it with a spectacular foldout of the wedding. Elsewhere, vertical spreads emphasize Thumbelina's tininess relative to gigantic, nodding poppies and gargantuan cattails. A jewel box of a work whose pages invite lingering. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)