Little Thumb is one of those old fairytales with so many horrible details that it would never make it into a children’s book these days. It became popular in the 17th-century version, written by France’s Charles Perrault, the author of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
The story goes like this: a woodcutter and his wife, who are very poor, have seven sons. The youngest is as small as a thumb and is blamed for all the wrongs in the house. When the family goes hungry, the father decides to abandon the children in the forest, despite the mother’s protests. Little Thumb overhears the conversation between his parents and comes up with a plan: as he and his brothers walk along with his parents in the forest, he will leave pebbles along the path so that he can bring his older brothers back home.
When the children return home, the mother is very happy. But when they all go hungry again, the father decides to leave the children deeper in the forest.
Little Thumb overhears the conversation again, but he does not have enough time to gather pebbles. He leaves behind bread crumbs and cannot make his way back again – because the birds have eaten them.
I will save you the rest