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.
After trying to sell matches all day long, a bitterly cold and extremely hungry young girl attempts to warm herself by lighting some. In the flames of each match, she has visions of food, warmth, a Christmas tree, and her loving grandmother. Not wanting to return to her cold home and abusive father, the young girl falls asleep in the snow never to awaken again. This adequate but at times overly sentimental retelling of a famous nineteenth-century Andersen tale is beautifully illustrated in soft watercolor tones
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+)