Vanishment of Thomas Tull is a book from my permanent read-a-loud collection. I have a handful of books that I read to students every year and Thomas Tull is one of them. The Ahlbergs are master story tellers - you might know this from The Jolly Postman, Each Peach Pear Plum, Peepo, and Jeremiah in the Dark Woods to name just a handful of their special titles.
"When Thomas Tull was seven years old he stopped growing, which was bad, and began shrinking, which was worse. By the time he was seven and a half none of his clothes fitted him at all; and when his eighth birthday arrived he had to stand on a box to blow his candles out."
These are the opening lines of The Vanishment of Thomas Tull. Don't you love that word 'vanishment'. Thomas is clearly shrinking - will he completely vanish? Mrs Tull is hysterical with fear and berates her long suffering husband Mr Tull to do something! A cast of interesting characters arrive after Mr Tull advertises :
"1000 Pounds REWARD
One thousand pounds reward is offered to any man woman or child who is able to prevent Master Thomas Tull of 158 Balaclava Road from shrinking away. A further one thousand pounds will be paid to anyone who can restore this well-loved but unfortunate boy to his former size."
The family try food cooked by world famous chefs and doctors from around the world like the Honorable Doctor Chop-Chop from China who uses an Enlargero-Phonotron - but it does not work only his rabbit gets bigger. Other people come trying to claim the reward. A little girl even tries to blow Thomas up with a bicycle pump. Thomas also dances with a duchess and flies with a Baron but Thomas keeps shrinking and then one day he disappears! Here is a hint - all the downstairs furniture from the Tull's house also disappears that night.
There are detailed line drawings all through this book. I especially like the page where Dr Gristlebone tries to stretch Thomas. This is another one of those little out of print books but you might be lucky and find a copy in your library I even found one this year in a local second hand bookshop. You might like to read about Janet and Allan Ahlberg here.