Matchless: A Christmas Story

Matchless: A Christmas Story

by Gregory Maguire


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With Matchless, Gregory Maguire has reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Little Match Girl for a new time and new audiences. Originally asked by National Public Radio to write an original story with a Christmas theme, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men was once again inspired by the fairy tales we all loved in childhood—and he composed a poignant and enchanting tale of transcendence. A lovely and beautifully illustrated gift, Matchless places Andersen’s pitiful waif in the august company of Maguire’s previously re-imagined Snow White (Mirror, Mirror), Cinderella (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), and, of course, the Wicked Witch and other denizens of Oz. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061913013
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Albany, New York


B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

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Matchless: A Christmas Story 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Mortizmo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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".
iCarlyGleek More than 1 year ago
I read this book in about 10 minutes, but loved every minute. Great book and I highly recommend it!
pegasus8 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
basson_mommy12 More than 1 year ago
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.
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think the subtitle says it all: "An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic 'The Little Match Girl.' Short, but excellent.
pocketmermaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the Maguire calls this an "illumination" rather than a "retelling" of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl." That's really the best way to describe it, as the Andersen's original story is mostly left intact with very minor changes. Maguire's additions are the expansion of the story. He adds a framework and new characters that blend with Andersen's tale that make it just a little bit less melancholy. Beautifully done.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A short, illustrated retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," which weaves Andersen's story (or a very slightly altered version thereof) into that of Frederick, the little boy who steals the freezing match girl's slipper, and shows us what happens next. It's nicely written, in its own very simple style, but I'm left at the end with the vague feeling that if there's a point here, I'm missing it. Admittedly, though, Andersen's original never did all that much for me, either.
jenreidreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an incredibly quick read! I imagine it would be even better listening to the NPR performance of this story. It would also have been nice to read it during the holidays, but I'm glad I was able to receive my copy through the LT ER at all. :)I can imagine reading this story aloud to family members on Christmas Eve. While a somewhat depressing tale, there is still plenty of hope throughout. The illustrations were also lovely; I didn't know Maguire was an artist as well! All in all, I think this would be a nice Christmas gift for a book lover.
Doey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wish Gregory Maguire would quit writing. He used all his talent on the highly original Wicked and nothing else he has written has come close to its quality. This particular gem is right at the bottom of a competitive group of dreadful Maguire fairytales and books. Not worth using to even up the legs on your kitchen table. Just burn it.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matchless isn't so much of a retelling, as an expansion of the Hans Christian Anderson tale "The Little Match Girl," interweaving Frederik, a boy who steals fish from seagulls for his and his mother's dinners, into the narrative. While I've always loved "The Little Match Girl," I admit that the story is quite bleak. Maguire's expansion of the story gives a sense that life may still be hard, but it goes on with joy and hope.
ealaindraoi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Little Match Girl is one of my favorite Hans Christian Anderson¿s tales. I¿m a fan of Gregory Maguire¿s other books. You would think I¿d love this tale which merges both.Eh ¿ not so much. It succeeds in a somewhat happier ending than Match Girl does, it succeeds in a somewhat ambiguous ending, which could be religious in nature or could not be.For me, such a short story has to be absolutely tight, with no loose threads to distract me, and I didn¿t find this to be true. Specifically, Frederik¿s mother works day and night to support him, yet after years of this there are only TWO thread spools for him to play with? Of course there is, because that¿s what needed to support the symbolism! She gets paid on Christmas Eve and stops on the way home to purchase ¿precious oranges and anise cookies¿ but no matches because ¿I saw no vendors at work¿. What? The store that sold oranges AND was open on Christmas Eve didn¿t have any matches? I¿m aware that the poor would sell handmade matches on the streets to make some little money, but really, the shops didn¿t also sell matches? The ONLY place to buy matches was from vendors on the street? Impossible to swallow, yet necessary to make the point that she couldn¿t buy matches because the Little Match Girl wasn¿t there, therefore Frederik had to stay up all night to tend the fire.Simply doesn¿t pass the logic test for me. If you want to craft a `Heartwarming Christmas Story¿ you need to get past the right side of the brain first.
lpmejia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cute little book that reimagines the tale of "The Little Match Girl." More of a picture book, actually, as it was very short. As the author states, it was written to be presented live on NPR, so if you're looking for a novel, this is not the book for you. I would categorize it as something like a children's book for collectors.
icedream on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this little book, the author's take of the original story "The Little Match Girl". The original is one of those tear jerker stories I love so I was a bit apprehensive about what Maguire would do to it. I didn't need to worry. His retelling is , as with all his books, from a different perspective while still managing to tell a poignant tale. While it didn't hit my heart as hard as when I first read the original story, it is a nice complement and worth the short time it takes to read it.
fig2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bittersweet retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson classic, "The Little Match Girl." Spare and beautiful, with Gregory Maguire's own sketches, Matchless is a poignant Christmas tale you won't soon forget.
EmScape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maguire updates Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" for this Chrismas tale originally read aloud on NPR. He manages to make the story a lot less depressing, but it's still a little too depressing for my taste. The illustrations are excellent and very detailed and very much mirror the tone of the story.I would recommend this as a book to keep on the coffee table during the holiday season so that folks have something to read while they're waiting for the turkey to be served.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Matchless" is author Gregory Maguire's re-telling of the classic tale from Hans Christian Andersen. As Maguire did with The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, he takes the original story of a little girl, selling matches on a cold winter's night with the hope of bringing some much-needed money to his family, and weaves it into another tale -- this one of a young boy named Frederick. During the day, his mother works as a seamstress for the Queen, continually at her beck and call for the few pieces of money she's given while Frederick fights the sea gulls at the wharf for any bits of fish that might left over from the fishermen. He also has an active secret life where he's created a village from neighborhood discards and people it with two creatures made from his mother's wooden spools and acorns. But two creatures aren't enough for his little village so he decides to make a boat so they can sail across the ocean to find more creatures. As he scours the neighborhood for the perfect item to make his boat, he unknowingly runs into the little match girl, setting in motion a chain of events that will change his family forever.Maguire does a fine job of meshing the two tales while also keeping both Andersen's original story and it's heart intact. Well, fairly intact, with regards to the story. Maguire transports the time of year to Christmas and instead of the match girl seeing visions of her grandmother, she sees her mother up in heaven smiling upon her. Those small diversions and the incorporation of Frederick's tale don't change how the story ultimately becomes an uplifting one, maintaining the connections between the living and the spirits of loved ones long past.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a nifty-looking little book, but I found it disappointing. It didn't add much to the story of The Little Match Girl, other than making it SLIGHTLY less depressing, and as pretty as the book itself is, I'm quite glad I did not pay $19.99 for it. I suppose it's intended mostly as a small gift book or stocking stuffer, and it would work well for this.
tapestry100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matchelss is described as An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic "The Little Match Girl", and it is. Maguire took Andersen's classic and one insignificant character (the urchin who picks up the little match girl's slipper) and creates a beautiful little story of family and forgiveness. Maguire tells us the story of that urchin, Frederik, and his mother, a seamstress to the queen. When Frederik finds the slipper in the street, he had no idea that it belonged to the poor match girl, and he takes it home to act as a boat for his toy family to be able to go and find a larger family, which it ends up doing on multiple levels for Frederik. I won't give anymore away except that the little match girl, in the end, forgives Frederik for taking her slipper and helps him find his own way back home.It is a charming little story that can be read in no time at all, but one that also helped me decide that maybe Maguire will be worth trying to read again, as this short, quaint tale was filled with so much heart and soul.
CarolO on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read several books by Gregory Maguire I was looking forward to reading Matchless.Matchless was written to be read on NPR and is a much shorter story then his other works. It is also gentler and less political.The M.O. is the same, the retelling of a children¿s fairy tale, in this case The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. The difference to me was that Matchless still felt like a children¿s story whereas his other books were definitely for adults.It is a nice little read, not challenging as I have come to expect from Maguire but I would still recommend it.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matchless is a ¿reillumination¿ of Hans Christian Andersen's story The Little Match Girl. This book was originally commissioned by NPR and read by Mr. Maguire on "All Things Considered" on Christmas day 2008.The story is told in four parts. In it we meet Frederik. Frederik and his mother live in a fishing village. They are poor - have very little food and only one match to help keep them warm. His mother is the queen's seamstress and is constantly being called to rescue the queen from her "iron foot" (or so his mother calls it, since she constantly steps on the hems of her dresses).Frederik has a vivid imagination and has found a way to entertain himself (while his mother is away) by making a small town out of cardboard boxes, broken bowls and even thread-less spools. This is his way of escaping the bleak reality of his life.One night while prowling the town for more items for his little town, his path crosses that of the little match girl. If you've read Hans Christian Andersen's tale then you know how that part of the story ends, but Mr. Maguire leads Frederik and you, as the reader, down a path that will have you believing in miracles, the permanence of spirit, and the continuity that links the living and the dead.Mr. Maguire did a fabulous job intertwining the story of The Little Match Girl (which he leaves mostly intact, except for some very minor details) and that of Frederik. The illustrations are all drawn by him - which alone were a treat. This very short (only 112 pages) story - brings the heartbreaking and desperate tale of The Little Match Girl and suffuses it with a bit of magic, yearning and warmth that will leave you feeling hopeful. This one should be read out loud and savored and, although a bit on the tragic side, it has a timeless feel to it.I wouldn't say I recommend it to everyone, but for fans of Gregory Maguire, Hans Christian Andersen, or those who like fairytale remakes, this is one you should pick up.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: I have several of the author's books but haven't read any as of yet plus The Little Match Girl is one of my favourite fairy tales.Summary: The story of a young boy who lives with his widowed mother. They may be poor, but they have just enough to get by and that is enough for them. Their lives very briefly cross paths with a little match girl who dies in the night cold one evening. Then due to that crossed path they are brought together with her distraught family.Comments: A bittersweet, little story that is really much more than a retelling of The Little Match Girl. Macguire uses Andersen's tale as a starting point to expand upon and from which to create his own tale. Chapter 2 of the book does retell Andersen's tale pretty much keeping to the original though he does make it clear that the little girl is hallucinating and it is her dead mother she sees at the end instead of her grandmother.Set in the past, in a time of horse and buggies, there is a sentimental ambiance that floats throughout the story. One feels that things are not going to go particularly well and after the death of the little girl any small act of joy becomes poignant. Macguire shows how the small things in life can (and maybe should) mean so much. As in the original tale there is that heavy feeling in the heart but there are bright moments and humour added by Frederick's mom. The fairy tale aspect comes into play when Frederick and his mom meet up with the little match girl's widowed father and two other young daughters and there is a special magical ending on Christmas Eve. At the very ending I think the book went one page too long, for I had just finished reading the end and felt happy with a sweet ending when I turned the page and one more sentence was written that I just didn't get. Perhaps it's just me, but I couldn't make sense of it, I turned back and re-read the second last page and for me that is where the story ends. A charming little story. Not for young children but more for adults and older children who don't mind a bittersweet story.
jfslone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Classic Gregory Maguire. Not as in depth or as compelling as his other works, but much more on par with his telling of the tooth fairy story in "What the Dickens." Still an enjoyable little book, and a quick read!
bibliovermis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A short, nicely illustrated retelling of The Little Match Girl. A good little story and appropriate for kids, even (unlike most Maguire fare). It wasn't what I expected and I liked it very much.