Monday, June 13, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature
by George Sullivan
Clarion Books, 2011
Grades 4-8
Reviewed from copy provided by publisher through NetGalley.

When Charles S. Stratton was born in 1838, he was a large baby, perfect in every way. But then he stopped growing. At age four, though a happy and mischievous child, he was just over two feet tall and weighed only fifteen pounds—the exact same size he had been as a seven-month-old baby. It was then that the notorious showman P.T. Barnum dubbed him Tom Thumb and put him on display, touring him around the world as a curiosity.
     A natural performer, Charley became enormously popular and wealthy, more so than any other performer before him. In this spirited biography—the first on its subject—George Sullivan recounts the fascinating adventures of Tom Thumb, and raises challenging questions about what constitutes exploitation—both in the 19th century and today.
(Book description from

A fascinating story about a little person, probably the most famous little person, who made a mark on the world.  The book provides not only a biography of Charley but also a look at entertainment in the 19th century.  Charley spent most of his life on the stage. One wonders though, what made him so successful?  Was it Barnum's superb but often deceitful marketing? Was it Charley's own talents? Was it his size? Or was it a combination of all three.  That would be an interesting topic for discussion.  Deceit in entertainment is another topic that this book raises, but doesn't analyze. 

The book is very well written and could make a fascinating read-a-loud.  The pictures have clearly been carefully chosen to match the text, always a good thing in my opinion.  One of my pet peeves is when the photographs don't match the text on the page.  The only problem I had with the book is the picture of mermaids with their chests uncovered, however, the picture does relate to what is being discussed in the text. Overall, a great look at a fascinating topic.

Nonfiction Monday highlights nonfiction book reviews for children on a weekly basis.  This week it is being hosted by Book Together. And I get to host next week, my first time. I'm excited.

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