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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

Author: Paul Fleischman
Illustrator:  Bagram Ibatoulline
Title: The Matchbox Diary
Publication: March 12, 2013
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Genre: Childrens
Pages: 40 pp.
Audience: 6-9 yrs.
Rating: 5 out of 5 
Synopsis from Amazon
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.

Thoughts:A beautiful story about connecting generations through unique method that showcased the journey one family made to America. It begins when the little girl visits her grandfather and she's fascinated by what seems to be his own personal collection of books and other things. However, one item catches her eye, his matchbox diary, which contains an item to commemorate the experiences he and his family had to get to where they are now. He wasn't able to read or write, so he put items in the box that meant something to him. Memories of the voyage from Italy to America or odd jobs they had to take or starting school for the first time. My favorite part about this book other than the way he chooses to remember the past are the illustrations. Ibatoulline gives vibrancy to the story that Fleischman has crafted. Overall, a great story of about bridging the gap and showing the younger generations that the past is important because it shows where you've come from.

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