|Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature|
by George Sullivan
Publishers Weekly This engaging biography centers on "the nation's first celebrity," legendary dwarf Charles Stratton (aka General Tom Thumb), as well as showman P.T. Barnum, who created his persona. Following high-profile exhibition flops like the "Fejee Mermaid," Barnum found redemption through four-year-old Stratton, who was only two feet tall yet perfectly proportional. His mother, after initial objections, traveled to New York with her son, where Barnum encouraged him to act older and taught him to perform. Engrossing b&w photographs and illustrations convey Stratton's rising affluence and celebrity: his wedding to another performing dwarf, Lavinia Warren, attracted crowds, and the couple's notoriety spread as far as India and Australia. Sullivan (Berenice Abbott, Photographer) sensitively portrays Stratton's personal identity struggles ("I love to watch children play," he once remarked. "I never had much childhood") and addresses Stratton's unfulfilled desire to become a more versatile actor. While Sullivan touches on the subject of exploitation and the limited understanding of dwarfism in Stratton's era, his subject emerges not as a victim but as an individual whose talents earned him the public's admiration and a place in history. Ages 10-14. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 5-9-A talented performer and charming celebrity, Charles S. Stratton, born in 1838 in Bridgeport, CT, began his career at the tender age of five. Around his first birthday, Charley's parents noticed that he had stopped growing at 25 inches long and 15 pounds, and their doctor soon confirmed that their son would be a little person into adulthood. As a preschooler, Charley embraced his size, reveling in the attention he attracted and making friends all over town. His relationships and reputation landed him on the radar of P. T. Barnum who, with dollar signs in his eyes, convinced Charley's parents to bring the boy to New York City for a four-week display at his American Museum. Although Barnum lied about Charley's age and nationality to sell tickets, the Strattons decided to trust him with their son, now known by his stage name, General Tom Thumb. From his first performance, Tom's career took off and years of touring both in the U.S. and abroad followed. Presented by Sullivan with respect and admiration, Tom is shown as a complex person with sincere struggles and desires outside the spotlight. Extensive notes are provided for the quotes found throughout the text, though they do not always point to primary-source material. The many period photographs and illustrations that fill out the narrative will fascinate readers.-Heather Acerro, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list *Starred Review* Celebrating a famous nineteenth-century American, this well-researched biography opens in 1863, when New York City's newspapers briefly set aside the dismal war news to report on a happy event attended by society's most notable families: the wedding of Tom Thumb to Lavinia Warren. The bride and groom, both under three feet tall, stood atop a piano to receive more than 2,000 guests. Born Charles Stratton, discovered by P. T. Barnum at the age of four, and trained to perform onstage at the showman's New York museum, Tom Thumb enjoyed immediate success and a long career entertaining audiences in Europe, Asia, and Australia as well as back home. In bringing this unusual story to life, Sullivan makes excellent use of primary sources, even quoting scripts to give a sense of the performer's stage persona. Throughout the book, photos and prints with intriguing captions offer fascinating glimpses of Tom Thumb and his world. Sidebars such as About Dwarfism provide information and insight on related topics, while an author's note, source notes for quotes, and a bibliography are appended. Well organized and clearly written, this solid biography offers a vivid portrayal of Stratton and makes a strong case for Tom Thumb as America's first celebrity.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.