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Matchless: A Christmas Story
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Matchless: A Christmas Story

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  3,494 ratings  ·  454 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, Maguire was inspired by the fairy tales we all loved in childhood—and he composed a poignant and enchanting tale of transcendence. A lovely and ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by William Morrow (first published October 13th 2009)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,494 ratings  ·  454 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Matchless: A Christmas Story, Gregory Maguire
The story focuses on Frederick, the "urchin" from Andersen's original story who took one of the Match Girl's slippers. Frederick is the son of a poor woman who works as a seamstress to clumsy royalty. Frederick takes the slipper to act as a boat for the spool people that populate the toy town he has created in secret in his attic. One year after the death of the Match Girl, Frederick nearly gets lost late at night but is guided safely home by some mys
Dec 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Maguire takes the unhappy tale of a little match-selling girl who freezes to death, and attempts to give it a heartwarming spin by at least having something good come out of her death. Despite his efforts, the story still seems bleak, and depressing . . . though the book itself is a visual treat with lovely marbleized endpapers, and plentiful illustrations by the author.

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
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
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
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
Angel Gelique
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bittersweet
Grim, but good! Review to come....
Maureen Grigsby
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the true spirit of Christmas tales, who can forget “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen? This retelling by Gregory Maguire is a riff on the original tale and (only) slightly more uplifting.
Alicia Miller
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
This is a cute story, and I enjoyed how The Little Match Girl was retold. Something perfectly atmospheric for the Christmas season.
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
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
Jackie Jameson
Sweet, easy read. Me thinks McGuire was just churning out stuff after the success of “Wicked” and could probably had his grocery list published. Aw well, ce la vie. Got it from the library so his coffers weren’t added to by moi. But I DO own the “Wicked” series including a first edition. Loved them LONG before the play. Coming to Vegas in September where I will be whoring myself on the sidewalk for a ticket. Ain’t life Grand!?!
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 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A happier retelling of 'The Little Match Girl' although there is still an element of sadness. This was a quick an easy read. This would be a nice one to curl up with on Christmas eve. ...more
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
Hannah Polley
I read this book in about 10 minutes as it is formatted in the style of a childern's book with a picture on every page. However, it still managed to bring tears to my eyes by the end.

It is based on the story of 'The Little Match Girl' but that is not something that I have read so I wasn't sure how I would find the book.

It is the story of two poor children who do not know each other. Each one's hardship has brought them out on the frozen streets on Christmas Eve. Frederik finds a slipper that he
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. ...more
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.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Short rewrite of The Little Matchgirl without the depth of sadness and bleakness present in the original. I was always moved as a child by this tale, but this version did not elicit a strong response in me.
Rose Lindgren
Beautiful expansion and redemption of the little match girl story
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
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short re-telling of the story of the Match Girl as only Gregory Maguire can do, the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Beautiful illustrations. ...more
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
Nicola Mansfield
Dec 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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 b
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
Dec 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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