THE CUCUMBER STEM by Betsy Bang

THE CUCUMBER STEM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Bengali ""Tom Thumb"" that could be a Bettelheim schematic. Because the woodcutter's wife does not follow the goddess' directions to a T, the child who is born to her is only two fingers tall. His father runs off in dismay at the sight of him, and sells himself to the Raja; and the rest of this follows Little Finger's cumulative efforts to free his father. Briefly, he must buy an ax, rescue a toad queen imprisoned up a tree, pay a cowrie, and chase off a band of thieves. That done, he marries and cures a half-blind princess, and is then given the chance his mother muffed to attain his full size. The strongest element is Little Finger's own pert confidence, the weakest link the toad-in-the-tree rescue, which doesn't make much sense mechanically. Tony Chen lets down his hair just enough to keep up with the action; and Bang's telling is agile enough, especially for an easy reader--though so many incidents are strung together here that the abbreviated easy-reader treatment might not be the story's best vehicle.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1980
Publisher: Greenwillow