Quirky Books: Matchless by Gregory Maguire

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Matchless by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is a modern author specializing in fantasy and children's books. A popular artist he co-founded Children's Literature New England and was featured in "Gothic: Ten Original Dark Tales." The short story "Matchless" combines his talents by utilizing the tale of "the Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen with underlying ideas preferable to an older audience.

Explaining how the Match Girl lost her shoes, Maguire creates a new character Frederik Pederson, who developed a secret world in the attic of his home. Basically, his community of spools needed a boat.

Maguire reminds readers of how "the Little Match Girl" is frequently interpreted with symbolism of dying and going to the spirit world, though Andersen's story does not contain paranormal material.

Part two of the book is essentially the same as the original. However, "Matchless" has a completely new direction. Perhaps Maguire wants to modernize the story with a tale of harmony and finding peace in the afterlife. Perhaps he wants to emphasize the premise of God being in everyone's life. Perhaps he wants to be controversial by presenting a story hinging on what appears to be human sacrifice. Maguire's character, Frederik, is unseemly.

Not wanting to give away the ending, the illustrations are in an under appreciated style of ink drawings. They are drawn by Maguire who looked at paintings relating to the story to find inspiration. Drawings appear rough; line direction and eye direction are consistent. Enclosed within a circle the eye direction remains either static or points to the text, a technique similar to the ink drawings in "the Dream Keeper and Other Poems."

While being modernized, the sentiment reflects current ideals; it remains traditional with a lack of commercialism. The styles between the original and additions are obvious; however, most teens and adults will enjoy the story. It addresses issues of death, guilt and grieving, so while it is often found in the juvenile section, it should be reserved for an audience with a developed sense of right and wrong.

Quirky Books
the Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes