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The Little Match Girl Hardcover – September 21, 1987

4.3 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Andersen's tale about a little girl who's afraid to go home because she hasn't sold enough matches is a classic. The little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, curls up in a corner, lighting match after match to warm herself. In the flames she sees visions; in the final one, her grandmother appears and lifts the little girl into heaven. With muted blues, grays and browns, Isadora captures the mood of a snowy Victorian winter reminiscent of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. With these illustrations, coupled with superb book design, the artist has surpassed even the splendid art in her previous books. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–An internationally renowned Czech artist brings her avant-garde perspective to Andersen's timeless fable. Pacovská's playful art is challenging and experimental, featuring childish scrawls, bright smudges of color along with silver inlays, and whimsically amorphous figures. One illustration depicts the girl's eyes, nose, and cupped hands scribbled across what appears to be a financial balance sheet. One spread consists of squares of color smudges facing a shiny silver page on which readers find their own reflection. The two pages are linked by a multicolored paintbrush/matchstick form. The image of the matchstick recurs throughout in all colors and shapes, singly or in groups, some leaning at angles, some resembling picket fences. Though the art challenges, it is appropriately childlike and whimsical, and opens this classic tale to new interpretations. Thoughtful students of folktale will welcome Pacovská's brilliantly innovative vision.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; Library Binding edition (September 21, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399213368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399213366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.4 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,565,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I first read this story during Christmas week of my 5th Christmas. My mother found it in its entirety in a Christmas magazine and I read it.

An unnamed girl is sent out into the cold by her abusive father to sell matches. He beats her whenever she fails to bring in a satisfactory income for her work.

One night, after a day of no sales, the child, frozen to the bone, lights a match. A glorious vision of a Christmas tree appears. The vision fades away when the match burns out. The second match the girl lights shows a Christmas feast. This feast of illusions dies too, with the match.

The third time she lights a match, her beloved, deceased grandmother appears. The girl runs to her, never to return to the cold again. The next morning she is found frozen to death in the snow.

This story gets to me 100% of the time. To this day it makes me get misty eyed. It is truly the saddest holiday story I have ever come across.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Everyone need to hear this. Even if you find afterwards you can't breathe for a moment, and you find yourself stumbling in a haze of tears and grief. I don't think that we were ever told that we would be spared such things if they would bring good.
The whole point of this story is to bring the searchlight of compassion and charity into the heart. Too often we tend to think ourselves poor. In Andersons day we would all be considered rich compared with most of those about. And fortunate. We are enlightened enough (at least in Britain) to help people with no jobs and who don't quite know what to do next.
This is quite a stern message and a wake up call to everyone. Perhaps it is the very sternest message which can be given to some people. It is very, very sad, but you have to remember that the girl does reach paradise, as do many every day, and if this is too sad, then, well, there is no answer beyond the consolations of heaven.
The story speaks much about the sanctity of human life on earth, and I suspect that this will become a more pointed message in the Western World as time goes on this century. If death happens in this way, if there is ANY possibility of this happening in your city (there is in the one I am in, but small), we should be listening to Christ:
"I was hungry and you gave me no meat, thirsty and you gave me no drink, naked, and ye clothed me not, sick.. and in prison.. and ye visited me not..."
We .. I .. should be there, aware that once the beggars were once little boys and girls, who have now grown old. SOme have lost their parents, some have lost other things, but they should not be forgotten. This winter it might be very cold.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christen Andersen was the first book I read as a child that affected me profoundly. I was able to make a personal connection to the text because I too was a young girl who was impoverished at the time. I knew what it felt like to be cold and hungry and I related immediately to the main character.

I came away from reading this book with empathy, sympathy, and knowing the truth: Not everyone has been blessed with having their basic needs met. In addition, I experienced a great joy when her grandmother takes her up to heaven to a better comforting place.

I came away with the concept that death was not something to be feared or a bad thing, but something that might be comforting and
positive. I have always loved this book. Because even as a child who was struggling I too had many things to be thankful for in comparison to what the little match girl had. The underlying message is powerful and real.
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Format: Hardcover
This fairy tale is a favorite from my childhood. It is a classic story of a little girl who is alone, poor, cold, hungry and afraid to return home becasue she has sold no matches. As she is freezing to death, she lights the matches to keep warm. As she lights them, she sees all the lovely scenes of life that she has missed...Finally she sees her loving grandmother who takes her to Heaven. The story's deeper meaning is that there are things worse than death, and with the little girl's death, she is no longer hungry, cold and unloved.
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A Kid's Review on March 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is very sad, but it has beautiful pictures. It can make young children cry at some times. This girl had to sell matches, and if she didn't she couldn't go home because her father would beat her. It took place at Christmas time, so it was very, very cold. The little girl sat between two houses and lit a match. The first match lit up a big iron stove. The next match revealed a beautiful Christmas dinner. The last one revealed a beautiful Christmas tree. This story is one of my favorite stories because it has beautiful drawings and it teaches you a lesson. The lesson is that some people don't have it as good as you so you should always help them.
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Format: Hardcover
One reviewer here has written that "fairy tales are supposed to be happy." Why?

If you stick the word "Disney" in there, then maybe the sentence is true... but in real life, fairy tales are supposed to be a vivid, even exaggerated introduction to the world of morals, virtues, faith and the fantastical, among other things. If you look at the butcher job Disney did with the original story of the Little Mermaid, you'll see what most people today are expecting when they pick up a fairy tale.

In this book, unlike anything Disney has ever done, the little girl dies, peacefully, on a freezing street corner, after a short and too-brutal life, joining her grandmother in heaven because the grandmother was the only person who ever loved her and treated her with kindness. She is neglected by strangers, abused by her father, and eventually burns up all her matches trying to stay warm.

So. This is a sad fairy tale. As grownups, we can get used to it. But should our kids?

My feelings are mixed about whether or not this is a book that is appropriate for children. I recently did read this edition, with the wonderful, lush illustrations by Rachel Isadora, to my own big and little girls (14 and 5 - quite a spread!) to find out.

Should I have used them as guinea pigs in this literary experiment? Well, I'm not so sure.

Dd2 (5) seemed fine; fascinated, actually. She has been exposed to many fairy tales, but this probably stood out as one of the most vivid things she's ever been read. Perhaps because death is so unexpected in a kids' book. Should it be?

On the other hand, dd1 (15) was utterly shocked, and spent a while screaming that it was a TERRIBLE book.
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