“…The fragile song / folded itself around the bird’s still body. /
Uneasily, Lina waited and watched. / Was that a breath? She dared not look. …”
Here’s a glimpse at some beautiful illustrations I simply must share.
Uma Krishnaswami’s The Girl of the Wish Garden: A Thumbelina Story, illustrated by Nasrin Khosravi, will be released next month by Groundwood Books, but I was lucky enough to see an early copy. This book is being published after Nasrin’s death and in her memory, but more on that below.
The lyrical, poetic writing here is striking, and the artwork is simply gorgeous. This is not a book that presents the seamless merging of art and text, as with a traditional picture book. More like an illustrated story or poem, it presents the text on the left of each spread, and one ethereal, Chagall-esque illustration on the right. For each and every spread.
I just read the Kirkus (starred) review and love how they worded it: “This piece shares Hans Christian Andersen’s plot but not its old themes of marriage and Thumbelina’s prettiness, powerlessness and self-sacrifice. Instead, with lyrical elegance, Krishnaswami gives Lina agency.”
YES. THAT. Thumbelina has always been one of my least favorite fairy tales, what with that poor creature getting carried away hither and thither against her will and then the almost-marriage to the mole and so on. (That almost-marriage deep, deep down in the darkness … SHUDDER.)
But, as the aforementioned review puts it so well, Lina here is decidedly not passive. Her mother finds her in a “garden of wishes, where the birds sang wild / and the winds blew free,” singing to her that she’s a “child of wildness, child of freedom.” Yes, she’s no bigger than a thumb, and yes, a giant frog snatches her up, but her tears run dry, and “an old wild tune” creeps into her mind. She calls forth fish to assist her, and she’s free. Read the rest of this entry �