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The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl

4.3 10
by Hans Christian Andersen

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The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen's tale into a child plucked straight from America's melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen's day as it is in our own.

"[A] beautifully illustrated version


The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen's tale into a child plucked straight from America's melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen's day as it is in our own.

"[A] beautifully illustrated version of a classic tale."(Booklist, starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bell (The Little Mermaid) renders Andersen's story with painful vividness, resisting the urge to draw attention to her own prose. Instead Pacovsk 's stark expressionist plates dominate the pages. An eminence grise among European illustrators, she fully exploits the media in which she works. Collages overlaid with pastel and felt-tip pen, printed on heavy, glossy stock, represent elements of the Little Match Girl's story. Her life unfolds as bold red-scribbling, terrifying chaos. Her frozen feet are white lines on black, while smaller drawings experiment with other deceptively simple ways of drawing feet and matches. A little red "WHoosh!" taped into a narrow gap between blocky, steel-gray apartment buildings indicates where she sits; later, a shooting star foretells her death. The star falls across a full-bleed spread, its path on the left page stenciled into shiny silver foil, like a lake or a mirror; the right-hand page depicts a series of pastel smudges arranged in a grid that seem to stand for the tears and dirt on the Little Match Girl's face, but also resemble an artist's palette. With smaller fragments of silver, the star strikes the heroine. Every page contains a similar shock, a moment of alienation, and yet viewers will likely feel the rightness of these images for one of Andersen's most disturbing stories. This rendering will be best suited to those who know the tale well and can appreciate this intellectual, abstract presentation. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A faithful retelling of a classic tale, dramatic snow-speckled street scenes and luxuriantly thick pages all earmark this picture book as a volume to be cherished. Pinkney (Going Home) transports the eponymous protagonist from Andersen's European setting to the bustling city streets and crowded tenements of early 1920s America. Aching with cold and desperate to earn money for her impoverished family, the young ragamuffin vendor will surely call to mind the plight of homeless people, familiar to so many contemporary children. The warm, comforting visions (a sumptuous feast, a twinkling Christmas tree, her late grandmother's loving face) that appear to the girl as she slowly burns through her wares shine bright as day in Pinkney's vividly detailed ink-and-watercolor compositions, as finely wrought as his admirers expect. The girl's cherry-red babushka and the fancy garb of harried passersby offer contrast to the stark gray sidewalks and brick buildings. The story's haunting death imagery--the girl slumped and frozen, her spirit soaring toward peace--may disturb the very young, but ultimately Pinkney's vision proves as transcendent as Andersen's. Ages 5-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Naomi Butler
This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's heartbreaking story is accompanied by heartwarming illustrations. Lavreys states that she always wanted to create artwork for children and was able to begin her career as a children's book illustrator. She is now the illustrator of Clavis' new fairy tale series. She enjoys giving well-known fairy tales a fresh makeover. This is a sad story, as are all of the other ones in the series. They are illustrated in various styles, some with slight variations. The things that happen as she lights each match gives feeling and interest to the book. The colors and images spill from one page to another, lending a unique characteristic to this edition. The colors used seem to lend magic and even sadness to the book. Perhaps this edition of the story should be read aloud by an adult who shares the illustrations and the tone of voice, particularly for young children. A clever and experienced reader can do wonders with it. A good choice for all ages five and up who love folktales. Reviewer: Naomi Butler
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-An internationally renowned Czech artist brings her avant-garde perspective to Andersen's timeless fable. Pacovsk '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 Pacovsk 's brilliantly innovative vision.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The familiar tale is paired with startling modernist illustrations that strip the sentimentality so often associated with it in favor of a more purely intellectual response. The text, in the form of Bell's graceful translation, appears on the left-hand page, with Pacovska's stark collages filling up the page opposite-and frequently interposing one or more wordless double-page spreads in between pages of text. The result is not a conventional picture book, or even an illustrated story, but more of a narrative that dances back and forth between text and image, rarely allowing the reader to experience both at the same time. Many images rely on the visual similarity between a book of matches and a packet of crayons, their many-colored heads translating to spots or scribbles on the page. Foil is used sparingly and effectively, forming windows and cutlery as the Match Girl imagines herself inside and warm, and the night sky as a shooting star-cum-paintbrush streaks across the page. Young readers will find themselves challenged by these highly unconventional images, which will in turn help them to challenge their understanding of a highly conventional tale. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Rachel Isadora began dancing at the age of eight. She trained at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet and has danced professionally. Rachel lives in New York City with her family.

Rachel Isadora has illustrated many books set in the world of dance and theater, including Opening Night, My Ballet Class, Swan Lake, The Little Match Girl, and Ben's Trumpet, which received the Caldecott Honor Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 2, 1805
Date of Death:
August 4, 1875
Place of Birth:
Odense, Denmark
Place of Death:
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Little Match Girl 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw the short film on The Little Mermaid DVD special feature section and it left me with tears in my eyes. I bought the book for myself and my God Daughter. It sends such a wonderful message to all ages and really makes you appreciate life.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I watched the animated disney short and cried because it was so sad, when I learned it was a book I got it. I was suprised that it was a few simple pages long ( I had expected a novel ) but it was still a sweet story. Summary( ending not spoiled) : A little girl starves in the cold night with a box of matches the people refuse to buy. She rests in the snow freezing and lights a match for warmth. Magnificent images come from the flame, and match after match they become even brighter. Again, I am not spoiling the ending.
BondJamesBond More than 1 year ago
Nicely illustrated and the story line is true to the original. Check out Hans Christian Andersen's background / biography to truly appreciate this short story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book before and really like it. It has a happy-type sort of ending (although you might only think of one part of the ending), even though it may not seem rightly so. Really good (child's) story for anyone. So, keeping an open mind and you'll probably really like it too. I don't think the ending of the story is bad; it's really good. Has good moral, which brings to my mind of the Grimm's stories without the grotesque. Try it if you want a break from any complicated book(s) you've been reading :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so wonderful. It really puts things in perspective for children as well as adults. Especially around Christmastime. It reminds us that Christmas is about others...not ourselves, and how the things of this world are nothing compared to heaven! We have read this story every Christmas season and cry everytime. But how we look forward to hearing it. I consider it a treasure that was shared with me when I was little, and now I share it with MY family...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should i buy this?