Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - The Matchbox Diary

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review - The Matchbox Diary

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About the Book
Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline tell a breathtaking immigration tale with appeal across generations.

"Pick whatever you like most. Then I’ll tell you its story."

When a little girl visits her great-grandfather at his curio-filled home, she chooses an unusual object to learn about: an old cigar box. What she finds inside surprises her: a collection of matchboxes making up her great-grandfather’s diary, harboring objects she can hold in her hand, each one evoking a memory. Together they tell of his journey from Italy to a new country, before he could read and write — the olive pit his mother gave him to suck on when there wasn’t enough food; a bottle cap he saw on his way to the boat; a ticket still retaining the thrill of his first baseball game. With a narrative entirely in dialogue, Paul Fleischman makes immediate the two characters’ foray into the past. With warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, Bagram Ibatoulline gives expressive life to their journey through time — and toward each other.

About the Author and Illustrator
Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images. He is the author of numerous picture books, including The Animal Hedge, also illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, and The Dunderheads and The Dunderheads Behind Bars, both illustrated by David Roberts. Paul Fleischman lives in Maine.

Bagram Ibatoulline has illustrated many acclaimed books for children, including The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman; On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Great Joy, both by Kate DiCamillo; The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson; and Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes. He lives in Pennsylvania.

My Take on the Book
What a beautiful written and illustrated book! I have to say that I was captivated by this tale from beginning to end, not only by the words shared, but by the amazing images shared within its' pages. The book hits home as I come from a family full of immigrants and I try to share this heritage with my own girls (to mixed results). This book however, captures the experience itself in a while new way, and I think explains it in a way that all children will understand and appreciate. The images themselves are works of art in book form. The images themselves as watercolors, just went beyond my expectation and I have to say that are so much richer than many books written for children today. I found that each time I went through the book I was finding new things in the images that I had not seen before. All-in-all this is a wonderful book for any family to share with their own children!

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