2008 Core Knowledge Foundation Thumbelina Preschool Read-Aloud Available only from coreknowledge.org

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1 Stories Thumbelina ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a woman who was sad because she had no children. Seeing her unhappiness, a neighbor gave her a magical seed and told her to plant the seed in a flower pot and watch what happened. The woman planted the seed that very evening. The next morning, she noticed that a beautiful plant had grown in the pot overnight. The plant had a lovely flower, like a tulip, but it was closed up tight in a bud. 1

2 Fingerplay Pause when you read about Thumbelina s size. Look together at your thumbs and talk together about a little girl that small. Have a conversation between thumbs! What a beautiful plant, said the woman, and she gently kissed the flower. When she did, the petals opened wide. There, in the middle of the flower, sat a tiny little girl, no bigger than my thumb. The woman gasped with delight. What a sweet child you are, she said. I will call you Thumbelina. 2

3 Stories Thumbelina lived a comfortable, contented life with the old woman. At night, she slept in a cradle made of a pretty polished walnut shell, with blue violet leaves as her mattress and a rose petal for her cover. During the day, she sailed about in a saucer of water with a large tulip leaf as her boat. Then, one night, everything changed. A fat mother toad hopped through a broken window into the house and landed right beside the sleeping Thumbelina. What a beautiful wife she would make for my toad son! exclaimed the mother. So she picked up the sleeping Thumbelina and carried her away to the garden outside. There she spoke to her son of her plans. Don t make a noise or you will waken and frighten her, said the mother toad. T H U M B E L I N A 3

4 What s Happening? Ask your child to recall what has happened so far to poor Thumbelina. Why is she crying in this picture? Explain It Water lilies root in the soil at the bottom of a lake or pond. A long stalk reaches from root to the leaf, which floats on the water s surface. Talk It Over While we prepare for the wedding, we will place her on a water lily leaf in the middle of the river so that she cannot escape. And that is just what they did. Poor Thumbelina awoke the next morning and found that she was no longer in her cozy walnut shell bed. When she looked about her and saw only water everywhere, she began to cry. Soon the mother toad and her son appeared on the river bank, which only made Thumbelina cry harder and harder. The mother toad and son left her alone and continued to make wedding plans. But Thumbelina s cries had not gone unheard. The little fish in the river felt sorry for the poor little girl. They nibbled at the lily pad stalk beneath the water until the leaf broke free and floated down the river, carrying Thumbelina along with the current. Thumbelina floated down the river, far, far away from the mother toad and her son. It was summertime, and she spent the next several months drifting peacefully from place to place along the river. She ate wild berries for food, listened to the birds chirping in the trees above her, and made friends with the butterflies who floated on the breeze nearby. 4

5 Stories T H U M B E L I N A 5

6 Talk It Over Use the words of the story and the picture to help your child answer this question: Why was Thumbelina so cold? Before long, though, summer came to an end, and the cold chill of winter filled the air. There were no more berries for food. All the birds and butterflies had disappeared. Poor Thumbelina! She was cold and hungry and all alone. And then it started to snow. She wrapped herself up in a leaf, curled up under a mushroom, and tried to keep herself dry. Still, she shivered with cold. Not far away, a field mouse was gathering some last bits of wood to burn in her fireplace during the winter. When she saw Thumbelina, she said, My poor dear, you are nearly frozen with cold. You must come home and spend the winter with me. I have plenty to eat, and my home is warm and dry. 6

7 Stories Thumbelina gratefully accepted the kind field mouse s invitation. She spent the rest of the winter in the mouse s snug underground burrow. Every day Thumbelina helped the field mouse with her housework, and then they would spend the rest of the day enjoying a cup of tea and chatting before the fire. Thumbelina soon grew very fond of the field mouse. She was happy to have found such a good and kind friend. Now it so happened that the field mouse had a wealthy neighbor, Mr. Mole, who started spending quite a bit of time in the evenings with the field mouse and Thumbelina. He and the field mouse enjoyed listening to Thumbelina sing to them. One evening Mr. Mole invited Thumbelina and the field mouse to come his house. They followed him down a hole and into a Pause at a New Word Take a moment to talk about the word wealthy, which means rich and describes someone who has a lot of money. T H U M B E L I N A 7

8 deep, dark underground passageway. As they made their way along, they passed a bird lying in the middle of the passageway. Pay no attention, said Mr. Mole. This swallow had a broken wing and took shelter here this morning. But she has not stirred all day, and she has surely died. The mole and field mouse hurried on ahead, but Thumbelina lingered. She gently stroked the bird s feathers and laid her head against his side. I wonder if you are one of the swallows that sang to me during the summer, whispered Thumbelina. Suddenly she felt the bird twitch. She realized he was just cold and hurt, not dead at all. Thumbelina promised the bird that she 8

9 Stories would return with food and blankets. And, for the rest of the winter, she secretly visited the swallow each day, bringing him food and nursing him back to health. When spring and warm weather arrived, the swallow felt well again, and he began to make plans to fly away. He asked Thumbelina to come with him, but she said no because she felt that she could not leave her kind friend, the field mouse. The spring and summer months passed. Thumbelina enjoyed being with her friend, the field mouse, but it soon became clear that Mr. Mole wanted to marry Thumbelina. Thumbelina was horrified. She did not care for Mr. Mole. In fact, she had always been a little frightened of him, but out of respect for her friend, the field mouse, she had always been polite to him. But her friend, the field mouse, was in favor of the marriage. She told Thumbelina that she should be happy, since Mr. Mole was What Kind of a Girl is She? After you have read how Thumbelina took care of the bird, ask your child what kind of a girl she must be. Help her find words to describe her: kind, thoughtful, loving, caring, friendly. A New Word Take a moment to talk about the word horrified. It means surprised and upset. Thumbelina did not like the idea of marrying Mr. Mole! Has your child ever felt horrified? T H U M B E L I N A 9

10 What Does Talk That It Mean? Over Use Stop the to be words sure of your the story child and knows the what picture to help weeping your child means. answer this Ask question: her what Why she was Thumbelina would sound so like cold? if she were weeping. Help her know it means crying. Make Connections Look back together at the picture on the previous page to help make the link between Thumbelina s flower and the flowers on these pages. so rich. Together Mr. Mole and the field mouse made plans for his wedding to Thumbelina. Thumbelina became more and more unhappy. She didn t know what to do. But she did know that she did not want to marry the mole. She sat outside the field mouse s door one autumn day, quietly weeping. Suddenly a dark shadow came over her. She looked up and, much to her surprise, there she saw her friend, the swallow. Thumbelina, said the swallow. I am flying south to warmer countries for the winter. Won t you please come with me now? This time Thumbelina agreed. She was sad to leave the field mouse, but she knew that it was the only way that she could escape from marrying the mole. She climbed upon the swallow s back and off into the air they went. They flew for many days. Finally, the swallow landed in a place that Thumbelina had never seen a lovely little spot, filled with flowers. Thumbelina looked at the flower next to her. She watched the petals slowly open. There, in the middle of the flower, sat a little man with a golden crown. He was the same tiny size as Thumbelina! 10

11 Stories T H U M B E L I N A 11

12 Another Word Amazement is another word for surprise. Help your child understand by showing each other a facial expression of amazement. Happy Ending Talk with your child about why Thumbelina has finally found a new home. How many different characters wanted to marry her? Why does the king seem the best for her? Thumbelina watched in amazement as all of the other flowers opened, and each had its own tiny person inside. The little man with the crown said, Welcome, Thumbelina. You have found a new home at last. Here you shall be my queen. He placed a tiny golden crown on Thumbelina s head and fastened a pair of beautiful pale wings to her shoulders. They made a happy and loving pair. And so Thumbelina and the king lived happily ever after in the land of the flowers and the fairies. The End 12

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