Matchless: A Christmas Story

( 16 )

Overview

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 ...

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Matchless: A Christmas Story

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

IndieBound
An Indie Next List Notable
Huntsville Times
“The little match girl’s story is now getting its due thanks to novelist Gregory Maguire of ‘Wicked’ fame…. Matchless glows with aching beauty.”
Ellen Trachtenberg
“Maguire’s story has the weight and solidity of a treasured folk tale, something to be handed down and retold.”
Huntsville Times
“The little match girl’s story is now getting its due thanks to novelist Gregory Maguire of ‘Wicked’ fame…. Matchless glows with aching beauty.”
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
In this adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's classic The Little Match Girl, a young boy named Frederik longs for something better for his mother and himself. Money is scarce, and life is hard. Frederik is able to find happiness only in the attic, where he has constructed a toy town. However, his life changes when he finds the little match girl's lost slipper, which contains a key and an address. Soon, he and his mother meet the girl's family. His mother marries the girl's father, and the two families are joined together in a happier life. In the climax, Frederik is guided home on Christmas Eve through fog and high water by mysterious lights, reminiscent of the matches sold by the little match girl. In 2008, National Public Radio asked Gregory Maguire to compose a story with a Christmas theme, and this is the result. Penned for the airwaves as it was, the author notes that the story was originally written to be read aloud. These constraints may have contributed to some problems with the story. In addition to the difficulty of improving on Anderson's original tale (the need to provide a "happier spin" on the original, for the sake of modern audiences, seems questionable), the new book is hard to categorize. Since it was written to be read aloud, it should fall into the picture book category. The story, however, is long (112 pages), and the pictures are line-drawn in black and white, a radical departure from modern picture book illustrations. Because it is so text-heavy, it might be considered a chapter book or a middle-grade novel, but it is doubtful that children would be able to access the rather difficult language and style (the type font also is not what young readers areaccustomed to). It should be noted that the copy reviewed here was an uncorrected proof galley, and changes may have been made in the final version which would resolve some of these problems. Reviewer: Leona Illig
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062004826
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 429,362
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is the author of several best-selling adult novels, including Wicked, which was turned into a Broadway musical. His books for younger readers include the picture book Crabby Cratchitt, the novel The Good Liar, and the popular Hamlet Chronicles series. While writing Leaping Beauty, Mr. Maguire sadly became allergic to all creatures great and small. Now he lives in a house without pets, though he is the father of three happy, noisy small children to whom, at this writing, he has not yet developed allergies.

Biography

Raised in a family of writers (his father was a journalist and his stepmother a poet), Gregory Maguire grew up with a great love of books, especially fairy tales and fantasy fiction. He composed his own stories from an early age and released his first book for children, The Lightning Time, in 1978, just two years after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany.

Several other children's book followed, but major recognition eluded Maguire. Then, in 1995, he published his first adult novel. A bold, revisionist view of Frank L. Baum's classic Oz stories, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West places one of literature's most reviled characters at the center of a dark dystopian fantasy and raises provocative questions about the very nature of good and evil. Purists criticized Maguire for tampering with a beloved juvenile classic, but the book received generally good reviews (John Updike, writing in The New Yorker, proclaimed it "an amazing novel.") and the enthusiasm of readers catapulted it to the top of the bestseller charts. (Maguire's currency increased even further when the book was turned into the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Wicked in 2003.)

In the wake of his breakthrough novel, Maguire has made something of a specialty out of turning classic children's tales on their heads. He retold the legends of Cinderella and Snow White in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999) and Mirror, Mirror (2003); he raised the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge in Lost (2001); and, in 2005, he returned to Oz for Son of a Witch, the long-awaited sequel to Wicked. He has reviewed fantasy fiction for the Sunday New York Times Book Review and has contributed his own articles, essays, and stories to publications like Ploughshares, The Boston Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Horn Book Magazine.

In addition, Maguire has never lost his interest in -- or enthusiasm for -- children's literature. He is the author of The Hamlet Chronicles, a bestselling seven-book series of high-camp mystery-adventures with silly count-down titles like Seven Spiders Spinning and Three Rotten Eggs. He has taught at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and is a founding member of Children's Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit organization that focuses attention on the significance of literature in the lives of children.

Good To Know

In our interview, Maguire shared some fun facts with us about his life:

"While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. I built terraces with chunks of Monterey jack, had a forest of broccoli florets and a lagoon of Seven Seas salad dressing spooned into a half a honeydew melon. I made reed patches out of scallion tips and walkways out of sesame seeds lined with raisin borders. Driving to the party, I had to brake to avoid a taxi, and by the time the police flagged me down for poor driving skills I was nearly weeping. ‘But Officer, I have a quickly decomposing Hanging Gardens of Babylon to deliver....' Everything had slopped and fallen over and it looked like a tray of vegetable garbage."

"My first job was scooping ice cream at Friendly's in Albany, New York. I hated the work, most of my colleagues, and the uniform, and I more or less lost my taste for ice cream permanently."

"If I hadn't been a writer, I would have tried to be one of the following: An artist (watercolors), a singer/songwriter like Paul Simon (taller but not very much more), an architect (domestic), a teacher. Actually, in one way or another I have done all of the above, but learned pretty quickly that my skills needed more honing for me to charge for my services, and I'd always rather write fiction than hone skills."

"I steal a bit from one of my favorite writers to say, simply, that I enjoy, most of all, old friends and new places. I love to travel. Having small children at home now impedes my efforts a great deal, but I have managed in my time to get to Asia, Africa, most of Europe, and Central America. My wish list of places not yet visited includes India, Denmark, Brazil, and New Zealand, and my wish for friends not yet made includes, in a sense, readers who are about to discover my work, either now or even when I'm no longer among the living. In a sense, in anticipation, I value those friends in a special way."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    I love Maguire, but this book is absolutely awful!

    I wish I had known that this was a children's book before I purchased or I would never have done so - I read the enitre book in less than ten minutes. It was definitely not worth the $20 dollars I paid and I would have returned it if I could - I don't even want it in my library.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    A Disappointment

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Gregory Maguire's last six books from "Wicked" to "A Lion Among Men", so I was expecting something on the same order when I ordered "Matchless". To my surprise and dismay it turned out to be a miniature "book" (8"x5") of approximately fifty pages. Only half of those pages have print ranging from two paragraphs to a single sentence. The other half of the pages are used for crude illustrations. Essentially, this is a short story marketed in a hard bound book. My overall impression is that this is simply a "rip-off".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Do not buy this book

    I love the author but this book is a joke. It is 27 pages and most pages contain only one paragraph or art. I can't believe the Nook would sell this book for $9. I would return it if i could. Shame on them.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

    Great-quick easy read!

    I read this book in about 10 minutes, but loved every minute. Great book and I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Story

    After reading various negative reviews of Wicked, also, by the same author, I was not sure if I wanted to read this book. However, I was so captivated by the description of the book, and the charming illustrations; I decided to purchase it. A short book that is wonderful. It is based on The Little Match Girl story; giving it a different twist. I recommend it to all fans of fairy tales, Christmas stories, and Gregory Maguire.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A New Twist

    I love how Gregory Maguire takes a classic childhood story, rewrites it from the viewpoint of another character, and tells what happened on the flip side of the coin. Matchless is the retelling of The Little Match Girl. It is a very quick read and I loved it. If you've never read any of this author's books this would be a good one to start with because it gives you a taste of his writing style, but it's short enough that if you don't like it you aren't committed to a novel sized book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Re-Illumination of a Classic Fairytale

    This story by Hans Christian Andersen is set as a Christmas tale of sadness and hope. Make it a holiday tradition to read it aloud to your family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    Don't recommend

    Paid 8.99 and only 23 pages long, half of the pages were pictures and the other half only had like a paragragh on each page. Highly dissappointed!!!!!

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  • Posted November 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Quick and easy read. Perfect for the holiday season. For those w

    Quick and easy read. Perfect for the holiday season. For those who have lots to do during the season, but still want to keep up their reading, this book is great. It's not super detailed, so if you need to jump out of it, you'll be able to pick up where you left off easily. Recommended highly!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 2, 2010

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