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Matchless: An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic "The Little Match Girl" Paperback – September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062004824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062004826
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An Indie Next List Notable (IndieBound)

“The little match girl’s story is now getting its due thanks to novelist Gregory Maguire of ‘Wicked’ fame…. Matchless glows with aching beauty.” (Huntsville Times)

“Maguire’s story has the weight and solidity of a treasured folk tale, something to be handed down and retold.” (Ellen Trachtenberg, author of The Best Children’s Literature: A Parent’s Guide)

From the Back Cover

The beloved New York Times bestselling author of Wicked reimagines Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" for modern readers, putting a new twist on a timeless classic.

In Matchless, Gregory Maguire adds a different dimension to the story, exquisitely intertwining the match girl's tale with that of Frederik, a young boy who builds a city out of trash, and whose yearnings are the catalyst for a better future for himself and his family. Maguire uses his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, suggesting transcendence, the permanence of spirit, and the continuity that links the living and the dead.


More About the Author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Doesn't translate well to kindle at all.
Choku Rei
A short story, really; it was originally meant to be a story read out loud, and in some ways the narrative fits that.
E. A Solinas
This retelling of the classic story "Little Match Girl" showcases Gregory Maguire's genius in a brilliant way.
Andrea L. Heyart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ck TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It takes a certain kind of courage to retell a classic holiday tale, especially one by a master such as Hans Christian Andersen. Modern storyteller Gregory Maguire has a special ability to comprehend the life and emotions of someone whose life has been wind-whipped by challenge -- and to share that person's story with subtle power and sympathy.

Clever puns and wordplay are among the most noticeable elements of the half-dozen Wicked stories that have vaulted Maguire to international notice. This time out, Maguire mutes his voice in the short Christmas story he crafted at the request of National Public Radio. Using simple words and phrases, he reworks Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," making the story line a bit gentler for 21st-century ears and yet preserving the simple spareness of Andersen's message.

I found myself rereading "Matchless" and finding nuances that weren't obvious the first time through, even though the writing is clear and comprehensible. Without spoiling any aspect of the story for you, although the story is brief, it's not superficial. It includes a section that can be interpreted literally or allegorically.

Maguire wrote this to be read aloud -- indeed, its first appearance was on Christmas Day, 2008, as he read it on the NPR air waves, and its rhythm, cadence and pace all are well-suited for the spoken voice. The line art that Maguire drew to accompany his words has an unpolished charm of its own, which adds to the keepsake nature of this little volume, but the tale is most powerful when read aloud.

One of our family traditions is for me to read Francis Pharcellus Church's "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" to our children, even though they're teenagers and well past the age where they could read to themselves. I'm thinking that adding "Matchless" to this tradition can only enrich it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Roberts VINE VOICE on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'll be honest, I get confused when people refer to Maguire's work as an "homage" to the original. He subverts, reinterprets and in some cases outright perverts the original stories into something new and different, sometimes with the clear intent of mocking the original - as an example, his most famous book, Wicked, can clearly be read as lampooning the idea that good and evil are dichotomous and one must be one or the other.

With Matchless, Maguire puts away irony and subversion and creates a wonderful Christmas story that speaks to renewal, create beauty from tragedy, and in the process invokes a Dickensian England that is as visible as any the old father ever came up with and with far fewer words.

Brevity can often be a curse in literature, as meaning gets lost in an edited text, but Maguire is able to speak volumes in his sparse prose, creating a book that can be read in very little time whose impact will last long afterwards.

I love this book. I highly recommend it as a stocking stuffer for your more literate family members and I think that this will be one of those books I always pull out and enjoy during the holiday season.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Sommerwerck VINE VOICE on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This review is based on an uncorrected proof.

In the early '60s, "Hans Christian Andersen" was first shown on TV, with a promotional LP offered as a tie-in, of Victor Borge reading several Andersen stories, including "The Little Match Girl". I can't imagine how the story or Borge's reading of it could be improved. (This recording should be reissued. It's on the same level as E B White reading "Charlotte's Web".)

Maguire's enhancement includes a new character who unknowingly interacts with the little match girl. Their relationship leads to a "miraculous" event at the end. It's clever without being cute -- and it softens the harshness of the original story.

Unfortunately, "The Little Match Girl" /is/ a brutally harsh story, with an ambiguous ending. By indicating that the girl's death has taken her to a better existance (rather than leaving us wondering whether what she saw was just her imagination), Maguire removes most of the harshness.

His illustrations range from mediocre to good. I don't feel they add much, though they permit the book to be described as "An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic". In the literary context, "Illumination" has two senses, and Andersen's story needs neither illustrations nor additional insight into its meaning. It can stand on its own.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on September 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a kid I was always fascinated by my mom's account of THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. She told the story as it had been told to her by her blind Polish born grandmother but the story's basic points remained the same as what Denmark's Hans Christian Anderson published in the mid nineteenth century. The plot of Anderson's very short classic is quite simple. On a very cold New Year's Eve night a poverty stricken little girl is sent out by her family to sell matches. Her shoes are her mothers and way too large and she loses one and another is stolen by an "urchin". Reluctant to go home because she knows it is just as cold there as well as by the fact she will likely be beaten by her father for not selling any matches she stays out in the freezing weather and lights her unsold wares for warmth and comfort. At the lighting of the matches she sees beautiful visions the most compelling being of her deceased grandmother who provided the only love she had ever known in her harsh life. The little match girl is found frozen to death the next morning with a beautiful smile on her face we assume is from the lovely visions she experienced that night.

Anderson's original story is retold in part two of Gregory Maguire's four part (but still very brief) "illumination" which is being packaged just in time for the holidays as MATCHLESS. In part one of this retelling we are introduced to a new character, Frederik, a male contemporary of the little girl who turns out to be the urchin who steals one of her shoes. Though the little match girl still meets her sad fate there is more hope in Maguire's story. Frederik, his single mother and the father and siblings of the dead little girl do find happiness together in part three. And part four certainly ends on an optimistic note.
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