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Matchless: A Christmas Story
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Matchless: A Christmas Story

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  3,046 Ratings  ·  400 Reviews
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 h ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by William Morrow (first published October 13th 2009)
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Rating details
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K.D. Absolutely
Nov 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tina
Shelves: childrens, retelling
If revival is to music and remake is to movies, retelling is to stories.

Now I know what my two friends here in Goodreads have been ranting to me whenever I see them. They both love reading retelling of children's books. One is even planning to write retellings of known Filipino fairy tales or folklores. At first, I was not sure what this meant as I was not really a fan of fairy tales or folklores. My parents did not read children's books to me when I was a child. Our island-hometown did not have
Dec 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
I picked MATCHLESS as a quick read.

Before I read this really quick read, I read the original story. After that I read MATCHLESS. When I first started reading the story, I thought that the little match girl had been replaced by a boy named Frederik, since in the first chapter his family has an issue with matches as well. The Frederik part of the story was ok. Frederik's main problem is that he can not share of himself to others emotionally. He is making a town in his attic bedroom that means the
Dec 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
What an awful story. Though the original (The Little Match Girl) was depressing, at least it provided social commentary and had a moral to it. This... this is just bad.

Matchless focuses on the tale of Frederick. At the beginning one might think Frederick is Maguire's substitute for the little match girl in the original. No, she's still there, simply relegated to a minor roll in the story. She still dies, although this time around it's not through the cruelty of society, but simply a series of ac
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monique by: K.D. Absolutely
I know it's still too far away for Christmas for me to be reading this book, but since I've been experiencing some down time in the office today, I decided to find a quick read just to clear the cobwebs off my head. Luckily, my copy (thanks, Kuya Doni!) is sitting on my office table, so I picked it up and was finished it in just a few minutes.

Just the perfect light read, this book. A retelling (or reillumination, in the author's own words) of Hans Christian Andersen's classic story, "The Little
Angel Gelique
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bittersweet
Grim, but good! Review to come....
Dec 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Absolutely No One
Where in the world do I begin?? Hmm--how about the definition of a retelling? Retelling- A new version of a story. Let me think. Was that a retelling of a story?? Not really. The basic fairy tale that was meant to be "retold" was, in fact, the same. This would be more like an add-on type thing. If you want to even call it that.

Before I read Matchless, I read Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl," so I could have a reference to go off of. I didn't really need it, considering Mr. Magu
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl is, without a single doubt, the most depressing "fairy tale". Ever. To quote Taylor Swift, "Like...EVER." (Sorry; I cant help it; I have a 15-year-old budding guitarist in my house.)

Maguire expanded the original story in this tale written for NPR's radio audience. He apparently tried to inject a little hope into the situation. And by "a little hope" I mean, "the eensiest bit possible". The little match girl still has no name. She still freezes to d
Oct 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I went through a phase where I picked The Little Match Girl as the book for my dad to read to me every night. One night he told me 'I can't read you that book tonight. Pick another book.' When he told me this a couple of nights in a row, I demanded to know why he wouldn't read me my request.

He said it was too sad for him to read all the time.

He had cried when he'd read it to me before, so I knew he thought it was sad. I thought it was sad t
Ana Rînceanu
This is a nice, melancholic story which is available for free on the NPR website:

I think I liked it so much because I really, really liked the original story. It continues to break my heart. However, this story is a lot more hopeful.
Retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Little Match Girl with some tweaks. You will either see this as a very grim story or perhaps a sad but uplifting story (spiritually). It is a Christmas tale and the author states in the epilogue that this story was meant for the spoken voice as it was originally read on NPR. I still enjoyed reading it but it was extremely short in length. I am glad I purchased it as a Kindle deal of the day rather than paying full price.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really like Gregory Maguire's writing and I doubt this is going to have me throw him out as an author, but I certainly am going to be wary of any shorter books he attempts now. His writing style is not made for quick pieces like this and this was an absolutely horrid retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl.

I don't even know what possessed Maguire to create this story. The original is about an unnamed, poor girl who is too afraid to go home to her father without having ped
Nov 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
Yeah... so, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was disappointed. The story of the little match girl has always been so sad, but beautiful. I don't know what I would call this. The match girl's father is supposed to be a brute- that's why she freezes to death rather than go home. That's, like, a huge driving force behind the story. But in this book, we're to gather that he's just misunderstood, and she was foolish for thinking that freezing to death was better than coming home without money ...more
Feb 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Lovers of the twee and banal
I loved The Little Match Girl as a child, and I still do. It has an ethereal sadness and beauty that will resonate with me for my whole life.

This book, on the other hand, is a tactless pile of twee-pitude. Steer clear if you like your fairy tales to leave you with the sense of an awakening and to "mean" something.

Hans is currently revolving at 45rpm in a grave in Copenhagen.
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
I listened to the author read this via NPR. Maybe it would've been better had I not, as I found Maguire's interpretation to be, well, kind of creepy.
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting take on a timeless tale. I think I like the original better but this was a quick read for a snowy day and fits the spirit of the season.
Luisa Knight
From the author of "Wicked" comes this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's classic "The little Match Girl."

Well written, and full of meaning, this little Christmas story will warm your heart. A quick read and many illustrations for the children to look at.

Ages: 6+

Cleanliness: Mentions grog. The word "bosom" is used to mean chest. Mentions ghosts (but it is a friendly spirit that is present).


Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports gi
David Edmonds
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
I know, I know, it's a Christmas story and I'm reading it almost at the end of January. But, I did get chosen to read this from the October 09 LTER batch, and it just arrived in the mail two days ago, and I don't want to tarnish my LTER reviewing record by waiting until later this year to read and review the book. So, you'll just have to suffer on with a review of a Christmas story in late January. Or you can simply move on to the next post. Your choice. There's no pressure from me here.

I want t
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
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
Malobee Silvertongue
Dec 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of Maguire's books I have read. A friend who loves his other work gave me this book because she couldn't bear to read it twice, or to pass it on to her own daughter. The Little Match Girl (upon which this is based) affected me a lot as a child. I had a particularly creepy board book of that, with 1970s puppets.

The prose in Matchless was originally meant to be read (via NPR) and this shows in the text. It really is best read aloud. The line drawings give the book a retro feel, a
Dec 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen's classic the Little Match Girl to be incredibly sad. Maguire's Matchless is billed as a retelling of that tale. It just didn't work for the original, the little match girl freezes to death because she's afraid to return home to her abusive father without having sold any matches. In Matchless, she still loses her life in the same manner but then Frederik goes over to her home to find a grieving father (really?) and subsequently Frederik's mot ...more
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
This retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's the Little Match Girl takes place at Christmas, instead of the New Year's, and is as bleak as the original. Maguire invents a secondary character to frame the story, a poor boy named Frederik who is the thief of one of the match seller's shoes, and devises a slightly happier ending where his mother and her father form a family of their own, and Frederik connects a second time with the step-sister he never knew.

The storytelling is deceptively simple, c
Jo-Ann Murphy
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it
The story was really nice and sweet. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the book was written like a children's book and included illustrations. I did not see that coming at all. Made for a very quick read. I was also very surprised to find it so lighthearted after reading the emotional roller-coaster that was the Wicked Years.

Keep up the good work Mr. Maguire :)
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was a fast read, and an ok addition to the original "Little Match Girl" story. However, I was not really impressed. It seemed like the addition was unnecessary...and I don't think it meshed really well with the original.
Gillian Brownlee
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an impulse buy for me. I'm not overly familiar with "the little match girl," but I love Gregory Maguire.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. As with his other books, Maguire offers a unique perspective on a classic tale, and even manages to make this one a little less depressing.
Dec 18, 2009 rated it liked it
An interesting twist on an old fairy tale.
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Matchless is another beautiful retelling from Gregory Maguire. It's a quick read with a powerful message.
I was hoping that Matchless would take away the depressing memories I have of having The Little Match Girl read to me in Kindergarten. I guess nothing but time and memory loss will do that, but at least this story does add a little more of a positive spin. I think. I can't quite decide to be honest. At the core of things, nothing really changes.
In some ways, that is what is good about this book. The rags and poverty and starvation are not hidden away as too grim, as many modern authors would do
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
And then her arms were around the girl; and her mother took her home to the sky, where the stars shine like matches that can never be extinguished.

People seem to have strong opinions of this book one way or the other. I personally enjoyed it. The story of The Little Match Girl does not change. However, Maguire bookends it with a new tale about a boy named Frederik and his widowed mother. Events cause these new characters to cross paths with the family of the Little Match Girl. The result is a
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Gregory Maguire is an American author, whose novels are revisionist retellings of children's stories (such as L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Wicked). He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children' ...more
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