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Little Ida’s Flowers

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Written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, Little Ida’s flowers is a fairy tale about an adorable young girl and her imagination. It exposes readers to the curiosity of a child's mind, wondering why flowers die. Key takeaways:

  • Little Ida’s Flowers Story

  • New Words for Kids

Introduction to the Story

Little Ida’s Flowers is a short fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1835 along with The tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus, and The princess and the pea. “Little Ida’s Flowers” is unusually Anderson’s own invention and not based on some earlier folktale. He wrote it for Ida Thiele, the daughter of Matthias Thiele who was a folklorist and an early benefactor of Anderson.

Little Ida’s Flowers

Little Ida’s Flowers

Little Ida’s Flowers Summary 

The story takes place in the early autumn. A little girl named Ida is upset because the heads of her flowers are drooping. She wondered to herself “ yesterday they were so pretty and today all the leaves are hanging down quite withered.”

A student sitting on the sofa tells her that the flowers are exhausted because they have been dancing all night at a ball. Ida liked him very much, he used to tell her the most amusing stories, and he was a delightful student.

He tells her that when everyone falls asleep, the flowers jump quite merrily and hold a ball almost every night at the castle on the edge of town. “ But flowers cannot dance,” cries little Ida.

The student replied, “In the summer, the court is home to the king. When the king leaves in the autumn, all of the flowers from the castle garden go inside the building. Flowers from all over town go to the castle to dance at night, some take the form of butterflies to fly there.“

A lawyer who came to pay a visit sat on the sofa and complained that the student was filling Ida's head with nonsense. Ida, however, finds the idea of dancing flowers delightful. She was convinced that the flowers did hang their heads because they had been dancing all night, and most likely they were ill.

In order to help her flowers get better, Ida puts them into a doll's bed in her playroom and draws a quilt over them. She takes her doll Sophy out of bed and puts her in a drawer. At night, Ida hears the faint sound of a piano coming from her playroom. During the whole evening, she could not help but think about what the student had told her. And before she went to bed she peeped into the garden where her mother’s beautiful flowers grew and whispered quite softly, “ I know you are going to a ball tonight.” She lay awake in her bed thinking about the flowers and what the student had told her. “I wonder if my flowers are still laying in Sophy’s bed,” she said to herself and glanced towards the door of the playroom which was partly open, as she listened, it seemed as if someone in the room was playing the piano. She is certain that the flowers must be dancing there. She was eager to see them but didn’t want to disturb her parents who were asleep. But the music sounded so beautiful that she could no longer resist. She crept out of her little bed and tiptoed toward the playroom and softly went through the door. What a splendid sight it was! She sees a yellow lily playing the piano like a young lady and the flowers from her garden dancing. Ida's sick flowers get out of the doll's bed and join them, yet none of them notice Ida.

A stick with a wax doll on it also joins in the dance. The wax doll grows to human size and takes on the form of the grumpy lawyer, with a broad-brimmed hat, and looks as yellow and cross as he did. The lawyer again complains about the nonsense that the student has been telling Ida, before shrinking and becoming a wax doll again. The stick dances very quickly, making the wax doll dizzy until some of the flowers plead with it to stop.

Sophy the doll emerges from the drawer, “Is there a ball tonight, why did no one tell me about it?” she questioned.  “Will you dance with me?” asked a shabby old male doll but she turned him down. The shabby old doll then happily dances by himself. Wanting to get attention, she sat on the edge of the drawer hoping that the flowers might ask her to dance with them. But seeing no one paying heed to her, Sophy falls out of the drawer and lands on the floor. Several flowers rush over to see if she is all right. Ida's sick flowers thank her for letting them sleep in her bed. They say that, unfortunately, they will be dead by the morning. They ask Sophy to pass on a message to Ida. The flowers want Ida to bury them in the garden. They would then be able to grow again the following summer and be more beautiful than they were before. Several more flowers then arrive, which Ida is certain to have come from the castle. The flowers continue dancing for some time. Then they all had a final dance and hugged and kissed each other. It was a beautiful sight to behold and at last, wished each other good night. Little Ida also crept back into her bed.

The next morning, Ida scolds Sophie for not passing on the message that the flowers gave her. Ida carries out the flowers' last request and buries them in the garden.

“This shall be your pretty coffin,” she said, “and as my cousins come to visit me, they shall help me to bury you in the garden so that next summer you may grow up and be more beautiful than ever.”

Note to Parents 

Reading makes a huge difference in a child’s success at school. Parents can make reading at home a lot more fun for the child by actively taking part in it. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Talking about new words and asking about their meaning

  • Making connections to real-life scenarios

  • Acting out the story, making different voices for each character, and using props

This may help build fluency and comprehension of the child.


“Little Ida’s flowers” is an extremely fanciful and whimsical tale with lovely images of dancing flowers. Flowers always seem to be symbols of perfection in Anderson’s stories, which is interesting as in many other folktales, they symbolise death and decay as they wither and die. Ida’s imagination can be seen as a gateway to a child’s curious mind where the student acts as a teacher to guide her. You can read Little Ida’s flowers pdf for further understanding.

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FAQs on Little Ida’s Flowers

1. What was Ida sad about?

Ida was upset about her flowers withering and looking dead.

2. What did the student tell Ida about her decaying flowers?

The student explained to Ida that her flowers were decaying because every night, when everyone sleeps, the flowers dance merrily and hold a ball almost every night.

3. What is “Little Ida’s Flowers” moral value?

In the story, we learn that Ida is a curious child and cares about her flowers so much that she is aware of their withering nature. Even when the lawyer tells her that the student is just telling her nonsense about the flowers holding a ball every night, she chooses to fuel her imagination and believe in the student.


Written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, Little Ida’s flowers is a fairy tale about an adorable young girl and her imagination. It exposes readers to the curiosity of a child's mind, wondering why flowers die. Key takeaways:

  • Little Ida’s Flowers Story

  • New Words for Kids