An old woman named Hilda, lived by herself in a small cottage surrounded by flower gardens. Hilda was very lonely with no friends or family nearby. She wished with all her heart for a little girl of her very own to care for.

One warm, sunny day while sipping tea on her front porch, Hilda saw a tiny speck floating on the breeze toward her like a sparkly seed. Carefully she caught it in her hands. In her palm sat a miniature baby girl no bigger than Hilda’s thumb!

“Why are you no bigger than my thumb, you precious darling?” Hilda exclaimed in delight. “That shall be your name – Thumbelina.” The old woman made a soft bed for her inside a polished walnut shell where the little one slept and grew bigger day by day on sips of honeydew and nibbles of flower petals.

One morning when Thumbelina had grown as big as Hilda’s whole hand from palm to fingertips, her adoptive mother said “Today is the first day of spring, my dearest. Let us celebrate with a special party!”

Hilda baked a thimble full of honey cake sprinkled with sugar crystals for the occasion. She sewed Thumbelina a splendid new gown of emerald velvet using a needle nearly as tall as the tiny girl herself and thread made from Fluffy the sheep’s wool. Oh, how fine Thumbelina looked when she tried on her new present!

After her birthday breakfast treat, Thumbelina frolicked outside among Hilda’s flower patches while the old woman finished up party plans. Out flew butterflies that seemed like colorful kites compared to Thumbelina’s petite size. Buzzing bumblebees as big as her whole face zoomed by seeking nectar. What a giant, fascinating world it was to explore!

Just then, Thumbelina noticed lovely music like a tiny bell tinkling. She followed the sweet sound and discovered its source. On a flat field stone sat an itsy-bitsy girl fiddling away on a violin not much larger than a toothpick! Why? Because this miniscule musician was just about the same size as Thumbelina herself.

Thumbelina ran over and piped in her tiniest voice, “Hello there! I am Thumbelina.” The other miniature maiden introduced herself as Emma. She lived under this very rock with an entire mite-sized village of little people. They invited their new friend Thumbelina to visit anytime and danced joyfully together at her special celebration.

But soon after the party ended and Thumbelina said goodbye to her small kindred spirits, the weather took a nasty turn. Dark gloomy storm clouds gathered as chilly winds kicked up. Hilda called from the porch, “Come inside sweet pea! A horrid tempest is beginning.”

Before Thumbelina could reach the safety of home, an icy blast caught in her dress like a kite, sweeping the tiny girl up into the howling breeze! “Help me!” she squeaked in fright. There was nothing Hilda could do but watch her dear one go.

Around and around squalling winds whirled helpless Thumbelina through the air. All seemed lost until the thread of her emerald dress caught on a branch high in a tall oak. There she clung on tight, too scared to let go and climb down all by herself.

The ferocious winds died away as the clouds moved on leaving a calm, crisp evening behind. Oh how cold Thumbelina felt stuck in that prickly oak! Tummy growling too – she had missed her dinner during the stormy chaos. Chilly and hungry, she whimpered in misery.

Just then, along fluttered Cornelius, a sparrow returning home to his nest after a day of worm hunting. The kind bird spotted the tiny girl. “Why hello there little one! Are you hungry and frozen?” Thumbelina nodded with a sniffle. “Well, let’s get you out of this tree and back to your house.”

But Thumbelina had no idea how to find her way back through the dark to her mother Hilda’s sweet cottage. So Cornelius brought her into the cozy bird nest instead where his sparrow wife warmed the shivering girl with her downy feathers until Thumbelina felt much better.

The next morning, Thumbelina nibbled a crumb of grain and thanked her new friends. But still she worried, “How will I ever find my way back home again?” Cornelius and his wife promised to ask all their bird neighbors to keep watch for Hilda’s cottage as they flew about.

Days then weeks passed as the sparrows carried Thumbelina with them on daily trips through the countryside while searching for her lost home. But every field, meadow and grove looked the same to Thumbelina. She began to lose hope of ever seeing her dear mother Hilda again. The sparrows finally built her a bed in their own nest.

Then one bright morning, as the birds prepared to fly out in search of breakfast bugs, they found a mournful toad named Gabby hopping sadly among the reeds by a pond. “Whatever is wrong?” chirped Cornelius.

Gabby replied “Oh, a thorn has pierced my side. I cannot swim well to catch my flies and beetles for food. I fear I shall starve!” Thumbelina felt sorry for the pitiful toad. Maybe she could help.

The diminutive girl asked politely, “Mr. Toad, might I borrow that shining crystal from your necklace?” Gabby nodded and removed the sparkling gem. Thumbelina took it to a rock where she carefully pounded the jewel into a sharp tiny dagger. Then she hobbled to Gabby and skillfully cut away the painful thorn from his flesh.

“There! No more ouch!” Thumbelina said. The toad thanked her profusely for the healing favor. Then suddenly Gabby exclaimed, “I know this place! We are at the old woman’s cottage. What a lovely bed of flowers she tends.”

The sparrows and Thumbelina all jumped about excitedly. At long last, her home had been found after all this time! The birds carried her back to the flower garden by Hilda’s house where the old woman saw her precious one again at last.

“Thumbelina!” cried Hilda in joy, tears flowing from her eyes as she held her dearest girl gently in her soft hands. Cornelius and his wife twittered a happy song then flew away. Gabby croaked in delight and winked at Thumbelina before hopping slowly off toward the pond again.

A marvelous homecoming party commenced that very day. The entire mite-sized village came from under the rock – Emma, her family and all the little people came, riding boldly atop the backs of bumblebees. What a splendid celebration with honey berries for all!

Hilda sewed Thumbelina a fine new russet colored cape with a hood to keep her safe from any future blustery gales. And she placed colorful cushions all along the window sills inside her cozy cottage so that Thumbelina might gaze out happily at her dear friends whenever she liked – the butterflies, bumble bees, sparrows and even Gabby when he came to call.

And Thumbelina lived thereafter with gratitude and joy for all the little wonders life brought just her size.

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