Buy the English version of this book (text not guaranteed to be the same).
For a complete list of recommended Fairy Tale Books, please see our bookstore.
A new collection of Disney Books is also now available.
This story is available in the following languages
by the Grimm Brothers
There was once a poor peasant who sat in the evening by the hearth and
poked the fire, and his wife sat and spun. Then said he, "How sad it is
that we have no children. With us all is so quiet, and in other houses
it is noisy and lively."
"Yes, replied the wife, and sighed, "even if we had only
one, and it were quite small, and only as big as a thumb,
I should be quite satisfied, and we would still love it
with all our hearts."
Now it so happened that the woman fell ill, and after
seven months gave birth to a child, that was perfect in
all its limbs, but no longer than a thumb. Then said
they, "It is as we wished it to be, and it shall be our dear
child." And because of its size, they called it Tom
Thumb. Though they did not let it want for food, the
child did not grow taller, but remained as it had been at
the first. Nevertheless it looked sensibly out of its eyes,
and soon showed itself to be a wise and nimble
creature, for everything it did turned out well.
One day the peasant was getting ready to go into the
forest to cut wood, when he said as if to himself, "How
I wish that there was someone who would bring the cart
"Oh father," cried Tom Thumb, "I will soon bring the
cart, rely on that. It shall be in the forest at the
The man smiled and said, "How can that be done? You
are far too small to lead the horse by the reins."
"That's of no consequence, father, if my mother will
only harness it, I shall sit in the horse's ear and call out
to him how he is to go."
"Well," answered the man, "for once we will try it."
When the time came, the mother harnessed the horse,
and placed Tom Thumb in its ear, and then the little
creature cried, "Gee up, gee up." Then it went quite
properly as if with its master, and the cart went the right
way into the forest. It so happened that just as he was
turning a corner, and the little one was crying, "gee up,"
two strange men came towards him.
"My word," said one of them, "what is this? There is a
cart coming, and a driver is calling to the horse and still
he is not to be seen."
"That can't be right," said the other, "we will follow the
cart and see where it stops."
The cart, however, drove right into the forest, and
exactly to the place where the wood had been cut.
When Tom Thumb saw his father, he cried to him, "Do
you see, Father, here I am with the cart, now take me
up." The father got hold of the horse with his left hand
and with the right took his little son out of the ear. Tom
Thumb sat down quite merrily on a straw, but when the
two strange men saw him, they did not know what to
say for astonishment.
Then one of them took the other aside and said,
"Listen, the little fellow would make our fortune if we
exhibited him in a large town, for money. We will buy
him." They went to the peasant and said, "Sell us the
little man. He shall be well treated with us."
"No," replied the father, "he is the apple of my eye, and
all the money in the world cannot buy him from me."
Tom Thumb, however, when he heard of the bargain,
had crept up the folds of his father's coat, placed
himself on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear,
"Father do give me away, I will soon come back again."
Then the father parted with him to the two men for a
handsome sum of money. "Where will you sit?" they
said to him.
"Oh just set me on the rim of your hat, and then I can
walk backwards and forwards and look at the country,
and still not fall down." They did as he wished, and
when Tom Thumb had taken leave of his father, they
went away with him. They walked until it was dusk,
and then the little fellow said, "Do take me down, it is
"Just stay up there," said the man on whose hat he sat,
"it makes no difference to me. The birds sometimes let
things fall on me."
"No," said Tom Thumb, "I know what's manners, take
me quickly up." The man took his hat off, and put the
little fellow on the ground by the wayside, and he leapt
and crept about a little between the sods, and then he
suddenly slipped into a mousehole which he had sought
out. "Good evening, gentlemen, just go home without
me," he cried to them, and mocked them. They ran
thither and stuck their sticks into the mousehole, but it
was all in vain. Tom Thumb crept still farther in, and as
it soon became quite dark, they were forced to go home
with their vexation and their empty purses.
When Tom Thumb saw that they were gone, he crept
back out of the subterranean passage. "It is so
dangerous to walk on the ground in the dark," said he,
"how easily a neck or a leg is broken." Fortunately he
stumbled against an empty snail-shell. "Thank God,"
said he, "in that I can pass the night in safety." And got
Not long afterwards, when he was just going to sleep,
he heard two men go by, and one of them was saying,
"How shall we set about getting hold of the rich pastor's
silver and gold?"
"I could tell you that," cried Tom Thumb, interrupting
"What was that?" said one of the thieves in fright, "I
heard someone speaking."
They stood still listening, and Tom Thumb spoke again,
and said, "Take me with you, and I'll help you."
"But where are you?"
"Just look on the ground, and observe from whence my
voice comes," he replied.
There the thieves at length found him, and lifted him
up. "You little imp, how will you help us?" they said.
"Listen," said he, "I will creep into the pastor's room
through the iron bars, and will reach out to you
whatever you want to have."
"Come then," they said, "and we will see what you can
When they got to the pastor's house, Tom Thumb crept
into the room, but instantly cried out with all his might,
"Do you want to have everything that is here?"
The thieves were alarmed, and said, "But do speak
softly, so as not to waken any one."
Tom Thumb however, behaved as if he had not
understood this, and cried again, "What do you want?
Do you want to have everything that is here?"
The cook, who slept in the next room, heard this and
sat up in bed, and listened. The thieves, however, had
in their fright run some distance away, but at last they
took courage, and thought, "The little rascal wants to
mock us." They came back and whispered to him,
"Come be serious, and reach something out to us."
Then Tom Thumb again cried as loudly as he could, "I
really will give you everything, just put your hands in."
The maid who was listening, heard this quite distinctly,
and jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. The
thieves took flight, and ran as if the wild huntsman were
behind them, but as the maid could not see anything,
she went to strike a light. When she came to the place
with it, Tom Thumb, unperceived, betook himself to
the granary, and the maid after she had examined every
corner and found nothing, lay down in her bed again,
and believed that, after all, she had only been dreaming
with open eyes and ears.
Tom Thumb had climbed up among the hay and found
a beautiful place to sleep in. There he intended to rest
until day, and then go home again to his parents. But
there were other things in store for him. Truly, there is
much worry and affliction in this world. When the day
dawned, the maid arose from her bed to feed the cows.
Her first walk was into the barn, where she laid hold of
an armful of hay, and precisely that very one in which
poor Tom Thumb was lying asleep. He, however, was
sleeping so soundly that he was aware of nothing, and
did not awake until he was in the mouth of the cow,
who had picked him up with the hay.
"Ah, heavens," cried he, "how have I got into the fulling
mill." But he soon discovered where he was. Then he
had to take care not to let himself go between the teeth
and be dismembered, but he was subsequently forced to
slip down into the stomach with the hay. "In this little
room the windows are forgotten," said he, "and no sun
shines in, neither will a candle be brought."
His quarters were especially unpleasing to him, and the
worst was that more and more hay was always coming
in by the door, and the space grew less and less. When
at length in his anguish, he cried as loud as he could,
"Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder!"
The maid was just milking the cow, and when she heard
some one speaking, and saw no one, and perceived that
it was the same voice that she had heard in the night,
she was so terrified that she slipped off her stool, and
spilt the milk.
She ran in great haste to her master, and said, "Oh
heavens, pastor, the cow has been speaking."
"You are mad," replied the pastor, but he went himself
to the byre to see what was there. Hardly, however had
he set his foot inside when Tom Thumb again cried,
"Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder!"
Then the pastor himself was alarmed, and thought that
an evil spirit had gone into the cow, and ordered her to
be killed. She was killed, but the stomach, in which
Tom Thumb was, was thrown on the dunghill. Tom
Thumb had great difficulty in working his way out.
However, he succeeded so far as to get some room, but
just as he was going to thrust his head out, a new
misfortune occurred. A hungry wolf ran thither, and
swallowed the whole stomach at one gulp.
Tom Thumb did not lose courage. "Perhaps," thought
he, "the wolf will listen to what I have got to say." And
he called to him from out of his belly, "Dear wolf, I
know of a magnificent feast for you."
"Where is it to be had?" said the wolf.
"In such and such a house. You must creep into it
through the kitchen-sink, and will find cakes, and
bacon, and sausages, and as much of them as you can
eat." And he described to him exactly his father's house.
The wolf did not require to be told this twice, squeezed
himself in at night through the sink, and ate to his
heart's content in the larder. When he had eaten his fill,
he wanted to go out again, but he had become so big
that he could not go out by the same way. Tom Thumb
had reckoned on this, and now began to make a violent
noise in the wolf's body, and raged and screamed as
loudly as he could.
"Will you be quiet?" said the wolf, "you will waken up
"What do I care?" replied the little fellow, "you have
eaten your fill, and I will make merry likewise." And
began once more to scream with all his strength.
At last his father and mother were aroused by it, and
ran to the room and looked in through the opening in
the door. When they saw that a wolf was inside, they
ran away, and the husband fetched his axe, and the wife
"Stay behind," said the man, when they entered the
room. "When I have given the blow, if he is not killed
by it, you must cut him down and hew his body to
Then Tom Thumb heard his parents, voices and cried,
"Dear father, I am here, I am in the wolf's body."
Said the father, full of joy, "Thank God, our dear child
has found us again." And bade the woman take away
her scythe, that Tom Thumb might not be hurt with it.
After that he raised his arm, and struck the wolf such a
blow on his head that he fell down dead, and then they
got knives and scissors and cut his body open and drew
the little fellow forth.
"Ah," said the father, "what sorrow we have gone
through for your sake."
"Yes father, I have gone about the world a great deal.
Thank heaven, I breathe fresh air again."
"Where have you been, then?"
"Ah, father, I have been in a mouse's hole, in a
cow's belly, and then in a wolf's paunch. Now I will
stay with you.
"And we will not sell you again, no not for all the riches
in the world," said his parents, and they embraced and
kissed their dear Tom Thumb. They gave him to eat
and to drink, and had some new clothes made for him,
for his own had been spoiled on his journey.