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King Matt the First Paperback – October 15, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Unforgettable to the last full stop. One of the great classics" -- Michael Morpurgo, Children's Laureate "Janusz Korczak is an important writer... His message is still relevant today, that children matter; indeed that they should be a priority in our culture, because it's only with a child's imagination that grown-ups can begin to conceive a better world" -- Yann Martel, author of 'Life of Pi' "Absolutely wonderful. A gripping and classic entertainment from start to shocking finish. Definitely a book for all ages" -- Matt Haig, author of 'The Last Family in England' "The spirit of Korczak, living on, could make a better world for all humans" Publisher's Weekly "Droll and melancholy, wry and touching, King Matt is a fable that offers a fierce, truthful picture of children struggling to make sense of grown-up nonsense... This small masterpiece is a rare tribute to the psychological depth and marvellous workings of a child's heart and mind" -- Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Janusz KorczakK wrote the classic children’s book King Matt the First and many nonfiction works. To mark the centennial of Korczak’s birth, the United Nations declared 1979 the International Year of the Child and dedicated it to him. Korczak perished in 1942 in Treblinka, along with the Jewish orphans he refused to abandon.


A nationally renowned advocate for literacy and literature-based instruction, Esmé Raji Codell is today "one of the nation's most sought-after voices for empowering teachers" (People) and a "Superstar of Education" (Scolastic Instructor). Esmé has been interviewed on CBS This Morning, CNN, C-SPAN’s Book Talk, and NPR. The author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading as well as award-winning books for children, Esmé lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she spent many years as an educator in Chicago public schools and now runs the popular children's literature Web site PlanetEsme.com and the unique literary salon, the PlanetEsme Bookroom.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Tra edition (October 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565124421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565124424
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a truly unique book. The author has a great understanding of the way a kid thinks. The main character is a young boy who is crowned king. He has various adventures as he learns about the world of grownups: going to war, starting a parliament for kids, traveling, etc. My only regret is that I read a library copy and I want to own my own but it is out of print.
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Format: Hardcover
Janusz Korczak (pseudonym for Henryk Goldszmit) is one of Poland's most beloved children's authors. There is not only this story, but also a sequel... . (One can see why an American publisher might not have wanted to publish the translation.) I am only sorry that neither of these stories are always in print in English. If you can read German you can get both it and its sequel in German from Amazon.de.
The first English translation, brought out by Roy Publishing, was one of the joys of my childhood. I was lucky - a decade or so later I wrote to the librarian at the library where I had checked it out so often in childhood - I wanted the publishing information so I could look for it - and she sent me the book! It is one of my cherished possessions, and I bless that dear librarian always. I like to write, and Januzs Korczak is one of my primary influences, others being C.S. Lewis and Francis Hodgson Burnett (for stories about children who become kings or queens). If you can't read King Matt's story, I recommend those authors, and also E. Nesbit, Connie Willis, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, R.A. MacAvoy, James Blaylock... This list could go on forever, but I will always think it imperfect as long as Korczak cannot be at the top because his stories are unavailable in English.
Lourie's translation gives more of a European flavor to the story; the earlier translation is softer, and it appears that some detail was omitted. My guess is that the earlier translators wanted to present an impression of the story that did not show as much of the sad, or the tongue-in-cheek, quality of the original, because the Polish people were then under occupation by the Nazis. I rather wish Lourie would translate the sequel, and that both books would stay in print in English FOREVER.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My eight-year old daughter read this book and at first was put off by some of the themes. However, she persisted and found she enjoyed the book. The book was written by a Polish doctor around the time of WW II. Some of the things that are mentioned such as "hanging" and soldiers drinking vodka might have been more openly and matter of factly presented to children of that era and that locale. For a current day fairly sheltered child, these were eye-opening and not what is expected when one has been reading "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and the like. After sticking with book for a few chapters, my daughter began to engage in the story of the boy who became a child ruler. She loved the humorous aspects of such a scenario. She found some of the situations that King Matt (child ruler) established such as children and adults trading places to be both funny and thought-provoking. I was surprised to find that the book made her think about the advantages and disadvantages of being a child and what it takes to be a good child or adult. Encourage your child to read a book that challenges her/him. The thoughts and questions that this book raised for my daughter will stay with her long after she has forgotten about Junie B Jones and the Wimpy Kid etc...
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By A Customer on August 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In Esme Raji Codell's new book, How to Get your Child to Love Reading, she devotes a page to this book and refers to it as "the greatest read-aloud of all time". Her book will result in a lot of demand for King Matt the First, so I hope it will be republished in the US>
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If a wise man wanted to share his wisdom with children, he would write "King Matt the First".

I have read "King Matt" 5 times over the last 45 years. I am excited about this new translation and I am looking forward to reading it again! I'd only wish that the second volume "King Matt on a Deserted Island", was available, too.

This is a deep book; underneath the exciting adventures of the little king, it offers a deeply penetrating, child's eye view of our world: Monarchy versus democracy, the upper v. lower class, differences between cultures and countries, the cunningness and hypocrisy of both domestic and international politics, the bureaucracy, racial relations, relations between children and adults, children's rights, boys v. girls, both the value and the absurdities of traditions and customs and just about every other aspect of life.

The second volume, "Matt on a Deserted Island", is unique among children's books. As the little king isolated on a deserted island, spends time alone, reading, writing, thinking, and growing wiser. This volume too is beautiful and full of love and surprising adventures. Unlike most "deep" books for adults, "King Matt" is remains a thriller even as it writes about deep introspection and contemplation of the meaning of life and death, love, friendship, togetherness and aloneness.

At the end, after many spellbinding adventures, Matt returns to his own country, where he establishes democracy.

To me the great value of this book is that it does not offer any answers. It does not promote any belief systems, religion, or values. Instead it opens up an existential inquiry and encourages the readers to think and find their own answers!
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