“Thumbling” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

The story of Thumbling is an odd little fairy tale. It starts like many others with a couple wishing they had a child. At last their wish is granted, although their son is only as long as a thumb. He’s not helpless however, and convinces his father to sell him to two strangers who plan to exhibit him in a town. Thumbling escapes from those two only to decide to hitch a ride with a pair of robbers. He tells them that he will help them steal from a pastor, but when the get to the home, Thumbling disrupts their plan. Not that it does him any good. He ends up getting eaten by a cow and after he screams loud enough the cow is killed because the pastor thinks it is possessed. Unfortunately, before Thumbling can escape from the stomach, the stomach is taken by a wolf who eats it. Thumbling speaks to the wolf though, promising him a fest at Thumbling’s parents home. when they get to the home, Thumbling’s parents kill the wolf and save Thumbling. The story ends with a happy reunion.

“Ah, father, I have been in a mouse’s hole, in a cow’s stomach, and then in a wolf’s; now I will stay with you.”

“And we will not sell thee again, no, not for all the riches in the wold,” said his parents, and they embraced and kissed their dear Thumbling. They gave him to eat and to drink, and had some new clothes made for him, for his own had been spoiled on his journey.”

I imagine his clothes were ruined. It’s really a pretty disgusting adventure. He spends more time inside critters than in the fresh air. Granted he was originally fed to the cow accidentally. The maid had no idea that a tiny boy was in the house, let alone asleep on the hay. The wolf is a mean, greedy animal, another character we have seen before, but he didn’t know that he was eating a boy either. I’m pretty sure he still would have done it though.

I do have to say that I find it odd that the father was willing to sell their dearly beloved son so quickly, even if the son did promise to return. They had longed for nothing more than a child, but when they finally had one, they sold him. And I’m not sure how Thumbling originally planned to get back to his home, but encouraging a pair of robbers to take him with them just doesn’t seem like the best idea.

You can read the story at Sur La Lune Fairy Tales. Tell me what you think of it.

Tif, from Tif Talks Books, is the hostess of this great feature, Fairy Tale Fridays. Head over there to see her take on “Thumbling” and to share your own thoughts. Next week, we’ll be looking at “The Ice Maiden” by Hans Christian Andersen. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year.


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