Friday, December 28, 2012

ReviewMeTwice- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

This week we're doing something a little different and fun!  We're reviewing a picture book.  My mom read this book to me when I was little, always around Christmas time.  I remember lovingly looking at the pictures and listening to the story and just sitting in my bed as she read.

****Just so you know, I'm going to tell you the end of the book.  But I don't feel so bad about it because it's a picture book and you can go read it in about 2.5 seconds.******

Now that I read it as an adult, I can view it with a little more of a critical eye.  The story is still fabulous, don't get me wrong.  Hans Christian Anderson is a master of tales and story telling.  I love that the ending wasn't changed.  It's a heartwarming and tragic story, all at the same time.  It shows a little girls hopes and dreams, at the same time, showing us how awful her life really is, how hard life really is.  But even though she dies in the end, it's still very hopeful, that death somehow frees us all.

This version is my favorite, mainly because it was the one read to me as a kid.  But Rachel Isadora does an amazing job illustrating this book.  Throughout the book, the little match girl sees all these wonderful things as she's slowly freezing to death.  Isadora manages to use the illustrations to give us a clue as to what's going to happen.  If you look closely, in one of the pictures, The Little Match girl is completely blue and curled up into a corner, a prelude to her freezing to death.

I really love this book, and love the illustrations that go along with it.  They're beautiful and mesmerizing   I also like the story.  Hans Christian Anderson wasn't one to shy away from terrible topics, in fact, most of this fairly tales were incredibly depressing, but I think this one has just the right amount of heartbreak and hope.

To the surprise of many, I did not know the story of the little match girl before Cassy suggested this book for review. I do love it, though. I know old fairy tales (and stories of that ilk) tend to be darker, then they are shined and polished and made "family-friendly" (usually by Disney), so I really appreciate it when one survives intact, like this.

As Cassy told you, this story has a sad ending. (Although I see it as a happy ending. At any rate, your protagonist dies, and she's a little girl, so it's pretty sad no matter how you slice it.) That's not something you see a lot of in children's books... particularly picture books. I love when children are treated as thinking people, not as delicate little faberge eggs that can't be exposed to anything scarier than the sound of the washing machine.

On top of that, the illustrations by Rachel Isadora are beautiful. Just look at that cover up there at the top of the post! Lovely. As an aside, here is a small bio of Isadora from Harper Collins.

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