Thumbelina - A little girl on a journey full of adventure
Once upon a time there was a woman who longed to have a child and she asked an old witch for help. The witch gave her a magic barley seed and said "Plant that in a flowerpot!" The woman did as she was told and a beautiful flower that looked like a tulip grew from the seed. The flower opened to reveal a tiny little girl, sitting on its green stamens. She was no longer than a thumb, so she was called Thumbelina. Thumbelina was given a walnut shell for her cot, violet leaves for her mattress and a rose leaf for her blanket.
One night a big mother toad slipped in through her window. When she saw Thumbelina she thought "That would be a lovely wife for my son". The toad took the walnut shell where the little girl was sleeping and hopped over with it to the boggy riverbank, where she lived with her son. His name was Hu, he was ugly and the only thing he could say was "Brekekekex koax koax". The mother toad set Thumbelina down on a water lily leaf and prepared a home for her down in the bog. When Thumbelina woke up and saw where she was, she cried bitterly. Soon the mother toad swam up with her ugly son and said "This is my son. He will be your husband. You will be living in a fine parlour down in the bog." The two of them took the walnut bed with them and put it in her underground dwelling. When Thumbelina wept again, the little fish under the leaf – who had heard everything – felt sorry for her. They nibbled off the stalk of the leaf she was sitting on. The leaf floated away and carried Thumbelina downstream.
For a while a white butterfly pulled the leaf onwards. Then a big May bug flew down. He thought Thumbelina was sweet, clasped his claws around her and flew onto a tree with her. There he gave her flowers to eat. But the other May bugs who also lived in the tree didn't find her at all pretty. She only had two legs, no feelers and was much slimmer than a female May bug. So the May bug let Thumbelina go.
Thumbelina's adventures with a field mouse, mole and a swallow
All through the summer Thumbelina lived in the forest. She weaved herself a bed out of blades of grass and hung it under a clover leaf to protect her from the rain. She drank the dew on the leaves and ate the nectar from the flowers. But then the winter came. All the birds flew away, the flowers and her clover leaf withered – and Thumbelina was awfully cold. She wandered through a large cornfield where only the stubble was left. There it was that she reached the field mouse's door. Thumbelina knocked and asked for a piece of barley seed because she was so hungry. The field mouse invited her to spend the winter in her warm parlour. In return Thumbelina cleaned and told stories during the long winter evenings.
Once a week a mole came to visit. He lived next door and fell in love with Thumbelina. He let her and the field mouse go for walks in the passageway that he had dug from his house to the field mouse's parlour. A dead swallow lay in this passageway. Thumbelina felt sorry for the poor bird. She braided a beautiful carpet out of hay and covered the swallow with it. It then turned out that the swallow was not dead at all, just half frozen. Thumbelina nursed the swallow until it was well again. The swallow flew away in spring, crying "pee-wit, pee-wit" in farewell.
When the mole pressed Thumbelina for her hand and to live with him under the earth for always, she flew off to a warm country on the back of the swallow, who had just returned. The swallow set Thumbelina down in the leaf of a large white flower where she should live. When Thumbelina examined this flower she found a little fairy prince therein, with wings and a golden crown – he was the flower elf. Thumbelina found the prince so handsome that she married him and became Queen of all flowers. She received a pair of wings as a wedding present and the flower elf gave her a new name – Maya. The swallow took his leave with a "pee-wit, pee-wit" and flew away. Thumbelina and her husband could now fly together from flower to flower.