Thumbelina of Toulaba
by Daniel Picouly
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec
(Enchanted Lion, 2007)
In this re-telling of one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most popular and enduring fairytales, Thumbelina comes to life in Toulaba, a magical place inspired by the author’s Martinique heritage. While the poetic quality of the original remains, the change of locale adds curious new dimensions to the story. Also, here Thumbelina is far less passive and more modern than in the classic tale. Children will be able to easily identify with the plucky heroine who uses kindness and cleverness instead of size and strength to make her way in the wide world.
Olivier Tallec’s bold, dramatic paintings of Thumbelina’s Caribbean-accented world of Toulaba shimmer with light and color, while showing the world from Thumbelina’s perspective. We immediately feel as though we are looking into a world of giants!
Over the course of her adventures, Thumbelina escapes from a terrible iguana mother who wants Thumbelina to marry her son, after which she encounters a showy sloth, a blind crab-eating raccoon and a caiman. Along the way she learns what true friendship is and that she has to believe in herself, even if it means saying no!
“This retelling should be hailed for its positive depiction of a beautiful, heroic brown-skinned little girl. The metaphorical language, symbolism, and whimsy should appeal to many different readers on many different levels.” – Multicultural Review
“This re-invention set against the background of Martinique is startling in beauty and mystery.... There is a fierce bravery in every brushstroke, and an explosive, expressive abandon of the conventions of the color wheel. The garden has taken over, and all we can say is: wow." – planetesme.blogspot.com
“Tallec’s bold, stylized illustrations reflect the exotic feel of the text.” – School Library Journal
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