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Thumbelina, A Danish Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Anderson

Updated on March 31, 2020
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

T is for Thumbelina, A Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Anderson
T is for Thumbelina, A Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Anderson | Source

My Children’s Alphabet Book

If you have followed my Fairy Tale Alphabet book series, you know I created a children’s book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. I tried to keep them global, and not concentrate on only the classic Grimm’s fairy tales. This one is a tale written by Hans Christian Anderson of Denmark. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

As you can see from the photo references, I originally thought of the little girl as a baby in the flower, or maybe dancing on a lily pad or with a beetle. But in the end I decided I wanted her with wings flying.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

— Neil Gaiman, Coraline
Photo references
Photo references | Source

Thumbelina, A Danish Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Anderson

There once was a peasant and his wife who had no children but wanted one very much. One day a hungry old beggar woman gave the peasant’s wife a barleycorn in exchange for a bowl of soup. She told the good wife to plant it and she would have her heart’s desire. She planted it and it bloomed. Then a tiny girl, Thumbelina, emerged from its flower, no bigger than your thumb. The peasant and his wife were overjoyed. One night, Thumbelina was carried off by a toad while she slept in her walnut-shell bed. The toad wanted her as a bride for her son. Thumbelina escaped the toad and her son with the help of a friendly butterfly. The butterfly left her drifting on a lily pad until a stag beetle captured her. He would have kept her but his friends didn’t like her company, and so he left her alone.

Cold and wet from the rain, Thumbelina tried to protect herself under flowers and leaves, but when winter came, she was worried. Finally, an old field mouse gave her shelter and in return, Thumbelina kept her mouse house clean. The mouse suggested that Thumbelina marry her neighbor, a mole, but Thumbelina didn’t like that idea because he spent all his days underground and never saw sunlight. The field mouse kept pushing and urging Thumbelina to marry, saying the mole was a good match for her, and would not listen to Thumbelina’s many protests.

Finally, Thumbelina escaped the situation by fleeing to a far land with the help of the swallow that she nursed back to health during the winter. Then in a sunny field of flowers, Thumbelina met a tiny flower-fairy prince just her size, and they fell in love. She decided to marry the fairy prince and received a pair of wings so that she could go with her husband on his many travels from flower to flower.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thumbnail sketch 1Thumbnail sketch 2
Thumbnail sketch 1
Thumbnail sketch 1 | Source
Thumbnail sketch 2
Thumbnail sketch 2 | Source

Collage Illustrations

I used a photo of my little niece for the reference for Thumbelina. I did make a video for this collage so you can see my progress on the collage. I do hope you enjoy the progress of this collage.

I was going with the second thumbnail sketch first. The little girl who posed for me was 10 but the drawing made her look older than I wanted so I switched before starting the collage.

Value sketch
Value sketch | Source

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

— Albert Einstein

Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story as Thumbelina.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books. If you are interested in purchasing the book, go to the Lulu website and put my name or the name of the book in the search.

Color composition
Color composition | Source

Did You Notice

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it.

I believe that many children recognize Harry Potter for what it is, fantasy literature. I'm sure there will always be some that take it too far, but that's the case with everything. I believe it's much better to engage in dialog with children to explain the difference between fantasy and reality. Then they are better equipped to deal with people who might have taken it too far.”

— J.K. Rowling
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Final Collage illustrationPhoto reference of Skye and Madison.
Final Collage illustration
Final Collage illustration | Source
Photo reference of Skye and Madison.
Photo reference of Skye and Madison. | Source

Final Thoughts

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase it on Lulu but not on Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      7 months ago from Fresno CA

      Peggy Woods,

      Yes, this one is familiar and popular. One of my HubPages friends from Ireland just purchased the book. I was so tickled when she wrote to me and said she had it in her hands. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      This fairy tale is one that is well-known, and you have done such a cute job of illustrating it with your collage. It is fun seeing the photo inspirations that you use. I hope your book sales are doing well.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      11 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence Hebb,

      I'm so happy you liked it. I try to be entertaining. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      Really enjoyed this story.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      11 months ago from Fresno CA

      Marie Flint,

      She did go through a lot, didn't she? I'm glad you like the little girl I chose for this one. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      11 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      Your work sometimes reminds me of the cross between a jigsaw puzzle and paint-by-number, but you are doing all the work!

      Professors can be egotistical sometimes. Yes, many students go through put-downs. I recall another artist who went through the same kind of put-down as you, then she rediscovered her art by making quilts.Her name is Charlotte Warr Andersen, in case you care to check her out.

      I love this little Thumbelina character, and, as a girl, I identified with her. (You have to have an imagination when living in an isolated, rural environment and being the only girl--my sister was 10 years my elder and was no longer around to make doll houses or picture collections together. Brothers just aren't the same.) My goodness, I can't imagine being married to a mole, either, and never being able to see the sun!

      Great work!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Ann Carr,

      It is so true. There are elements of fairy tales that are so sad and sometimes gruesome. Yet there is hope and many times, a happy ending. Why do we like these stories so much? Are they mirrors of life? Do we actually believe in prince charming or do we just hope for a charming rescuer? I'm not sure I want to explore that too deeply. I'm so happy you like my work. Thanks.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

      I'm so glad you like my fairy tales. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      RoadMonkey,

      I know others could have written it better, worded these fairy tales with better, flowery language. But I love working the illustrations and I do the best I can. I appreciate your comments.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mitara N,

      Thank you so much. I do love these stories, especially the old original versions. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Reynold Jay,

      It's very nice to see you back again. I do hope all is well. I'd love to see your work if you care to share it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      Aren't you sweet! I wouldn't say my illustrations are perfect. Some are less than what I was hoping for. I've already begun on the new alphabet book and started the collage for the letter A. It's good to work on something like this that makes me so happy. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      12 months ago from SW England

      Yes, the parents would have been heart-broken but, strangely, that doesn't come into the story. I find lots of these old tales are like that, with an underlying sadness. I never liked them much as a child.

      Beautiful illustrations, Denise! You are clever with your collage and use colours so well. I like the explanation of the progression of your work.

      Ann

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      You know, no one every mentions that. Her parents aren't mentioned again but they must have been sad that she never came home again. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      12 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      So cute. I liked this one. Thanks.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      I appreciate that. I'm still waiting for my social security to show up. Probably tomorrow. I think it may be prudent to put off hiring you till I see the stimulus money come in. I hope that's okay. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Liz Westwood,

      It is a charming tale. That Anderson had a great imagination. I've always been fond of the Danny Kaye version of his biography... partly because it's a musical. I love musicals. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      12 months ago

      Another great tale. I think there are many versions of Thumbelina and even a song. There is something about this story that just makes it a favourite.

    • MitaraN profile image

      Mitara N 

      12 months ago from South Africa

      The beauty in the collage you share is so precious.

      It's wonderful how you unpacked an old tale, revitalised, re-energised and brought it back to life.

      I commend you for the detail and passion you put into your work, it is so instrumental.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      12 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      It is nice to see how you worked out the problems with this. If you wish, I can send you one of my illustrated children's ( adult edition) books that I bet you might enjoy. I enjoy your work and love the classic stories. Back after 5 years lost in the art world! First HUB in five years. ...and nice to see you again after all this time

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Denise it is interesting to keep up to date with old tales. I know that since reading your work of old tales I will always be reminded of it and it is well written to have our memories refreshed. again and again. Good luck on your writing adventures and with the perfect illustrations you bring to us.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      What a sweet collage--your niece is precious. Thumbelina had a happy ending, but I find myself feeling sad for her parents. Your book is a treasure.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I hope your new book project is progressing nicely. Best wishes on that.

      Stay safe, be healthy, and be happy! Wonderful work here!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      That's a lovely collage. It's good to refamiliarise myself with this Hans Christian Anderson tale.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Jason Nicolosi,

      It is heart-lifting, isn't it? A moral that we shouldn't judge anything by looks or size but by the quality of the heart. Thanks so much for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      I'm so overjoyed that you think so. I liked it so much. And the first model was 10 years old but the one I finally went with was 3. I like her expressions and pose so much more, don't you? Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Nicoartz profile image

      Jason Nicolosi 

      12 months ago from AZ

      Denise, I loved your article. The story Thumbelina is one of my all time favorites. It's such a heart-lifting tale. I loved you're collage and video.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      12 months ago

      I love this fairy tale Denise and I always enjoy reading how you bring everything together. The idea of giving her wings is perfect - just like your beautiful collage.

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