CYBILS JUNIOR HIGH NONFICTION: The Big, Bold Adventurous Life of Lavinia Warren by Elizabeth Raum

Lavinia Warren never let her height—or the lack of it—prevent her from leading a full and adventurous life. Although she never grew more than three feet tall, she became a beloved teacher, a world traveler, an entertainer and the friend of many powerful figures. Lavinia was teaching at a local school when she heard about an opportunity to travel doing shows as a “human curiosity” on a Mississippi River boat. Eventually she met P. T. Barnum and worked at his American Museum. It was there that she met Charles Stratton, a little person known to the world as “Tom Thumb.” Their wedding, which took place on February 10, 1863, brought joy to a nation at war. President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln held a reception for the couple at the White House. The newlyweds later toured the United States and the world. Lavinia faced several tragedies but always found the strength to go on. Lavinia’s extraordinary story also provides a social history of one of the most devastating periods in American history. With additional material on Tom Thumb Weddings, readers' questions, time line, and notes and bibliography, this is sure to be a valuable title for adventurous middle-grade readers.


Lavinia Warren spent years of her life traveling the world.  When she was born in 1841, that is not what her parents envisioned for her.  But when she stopped growing at a young age, and remained short her whole life because of dwarfism, things started to look different.  Her size never stopped her from playing pranks, becoming a teacher, and learning to take care of herself.  After spending a year on a riverboat starring in various shows, she returned home as the Civil War broke out.  Meeting P.T. Barnum changed her life.  He invited her to work at his American Museum where she met Charles Stratton, otherwise known at General Tom Thumb.  After getting married, the two spent many years traveling around the world performing for packed audiences.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lavinia's adventures, the people she meet, the places she saw, and the friends she made.  While her size did make her life more difficult in some ways, she didn't let it stop her from seeing and experiencing the world.  This is a great middle grade biography about an woman who left her mark on the world.  


  1. Terrific review for a wonderful book and author. Congratulations, Betty!


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