The Tinderbox

( 1 )

Overview

From the creators of THE NIGHTINGALE, an exquisite edition of another Hans Christian Andersen classic tale of dark adventure

"Left, right! Left, right!" A soldier is marching home from war when he meets a witch who says, "What a fine sword you have, and what a big knapsack! Now I’ll show you how to get as much money as you want." Fortune is fleeting for the soldier until he learns the secret of the witch’s tinderbox and her three eerie dogs, each with eyes bigger than the last. With each strike of the flint, a ...

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Overview

From the creators of THE NIGHTINGALE, an exquisite edition of another Hans Christian Andersen classic tale of dark adventure

"Left, right! Left, right!" A soldier is marching home from war when he meets a witch who says, "What a fine sword you have, and what a big knapsack! Now I’ll show you how to get as much money as you want." Fortune is fleeting for the soldier until he learns the secret of the witch’s tinderbox and her three eerie dogs, each with eyes bigger than the last. With each strike of the flint, a dog materializes to grant him his wish, and the soldier doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of this gift — at a high cost to the kingdom. Spun with wit and clarity, Stephen Mitchell’s wonderfully fresh retelling is paired with Bagram Ibatoulline’s richly detailed illustrations, creating a stunning collectible edition.

A retelling of Andersen's classic tale of a brave soldier who finds love and fortune in a magic tinderbox, set in the post-Civil War South.

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
…a vivid new translation here by Stephen Mitchell…Bagram Ibatoulline's delicate watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations bring out its latent, violent weirdness very well.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Andersen's mysterious tale of the common soldier who ends up marrying a princess with the help of three unusual messengers of fate is illustrated with Hutton's beautifully rendered pen-and-watercolor drawings. The soldier kills a witch because she will not tell him the secret of her tinderbox and discovers that when he strikes the box, three dogswith eyes as big as teacups, mill wheels and round towers, respectivelyappear to do his bidding and help him win the princess. While Hutton effectively uses moon-washed shadows throughout the book, the dogs, like Orphan Annie's Sandy, have blank cartoon eyes that detract from the eerie aspects of the story. Although some of the paintings are imaginatively designed, the art does not provide a consistent interpretation of the work. Ages 6-up. (Sept . )
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Mitchell collaborates once more with illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline (See The Nightingale). In The Tinderbox, a soldier marching home from war meets a witch. Be warned, there's no sentimental avoidance of the grotesque and brutal here. The witch's "lower lip hung down to her breast." And yes, her head is indeed lopped off at the appropriate point in the story. It's refreshing to see that this retelling conveys the rowdiness, casual disregard for social niceties, and frank lusting after wealth that are characteristic of Andersen's soldiers. Mitchell takes the risk of staying true to the spirit of the original, instead of seeking to serve a sentimental conceit of the child reader. The short, sharp prose that marks classic translations can be found here, with a few exceptions where simplifying the language seems to have marginally tempered the breathlessness. We are led in and out of the hall with the hundreds of lamps, in and out through the doors, in and out of the presence of the dogs, and through to the expected feast at the end. The stunning spreads and exquisite detail of the illustrations add both texture and terror to the tale. No young reader encountering this book will ever forget those dogs with their astonishing eyes. With no back matter to clarify this point, it's unclear whether Mitchell (translator of works from the Bhagavad Gita to Neruda and Rilke) translated this story himself, or relied on the classic translation of Jean Hersholt. A cited source would have been so easy to include that it's surprising not to find it here.
School Library Journal

Gr 2–5
The soldier may be handsome and the princess lovely, but the old witch and the three giant dogs along with the beautifully developed settings really create the superb fairy-tale ambience of this robust telling of Andersen's tale. Ibatoulline's finely hatched pen drawings, washed in muted tones, resemble lithographs and have an appropriately old-fashioned look. His wide double-page scenes include broad vistas of the mountainous countryside with far-off palaces and close-up views of characters and actions. Mitchell's faithful retelling is a bit verbose at times, but Andersen himself tended to be wordy. The scraggly witch is quite wonderful, but of course she comes to a quick end. "So he cut her head off. Her body fell to the ground, and her head fell beside it." This is not a tale for the faint of heart, but it's a rich rendering of the durable, intriguing classic.
—Margaret BushCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763620783
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/13/2007
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,476,087
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.05 (w) x 11.68 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Mitchell
Stephen Mitchell is a renowned writer and translator whose books for young readers include THE WISHING BONE AND OTHER POEMS and THE NIGHTINGALE. His books for adults include the bestselling TAO TE CHING, as well as GILGAMESH, THE BOOK OF JOB, MEETINGS WITH THE ARCHANGEL, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS, and THE ENLIGHTENED HEART: AN ANTHOLOGY OF SACRED POETRY.

Bagram Ibatoulline is the illustrator of THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo, THE SERPENT CAME TO GLOUCESTER by M. T. Anderson, HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS by Deborah Noyes, Stephen Mitchell’s THE NIGHTINGALE, and CROSSING by Philip Booth. Born in Russia, Bagram Ibatoulline lives in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania.

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