28 December 2009

Matchless: A Christmas Story

By Gregory Maguire
Published by HarperCollins, 2009
Illustrated by Gregory Maguire

"An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic The Little Match Girl"

I can't resist a book written by Gregory Maguire. So, even though this book is tiny - and seems to have just as many pictures as words - I had to have it. It is interesting to me how Maguire can take a classic fairy tale and retell it so that his version is the one you remember and prefer.

This retelling is not so much about a little match girl as it is about Frederik and his mother who live:

"On an island so far north that it snowed from September to April...".

Surprisingly, the island was not Newfoundland.

The match girl's story appears in Part Two and, according to Maguire's notes, doesn't stray too much from Andersen's original. Maguire does manage quite nicely to intertwine her story with Frederik's story.

Matchless is a tale of a dying child's hallucinations, a working mother's lack of time for her child, a child's wish for a better future, and a connection to the afterlife. This story was written for National Public Radio in the US and my only complaint would be that it wasn't written as a full-length novel.

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