The Matchstick Castle Paperback – June 5, 2018
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“This quirky novel is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie for the tweenage set. . . . For those who enjoy a bit of absurdist humor with their realism.”—School Library Journal
“A zippy, adventurous romp in the woods complete with fierce animals and buried treasure.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"What makes this book special is the way Graff evokes the excitement of new vistas . . . . a compelling reminder that it's a great big world out there, just waiting for the next generation of dreamers and explorers."—Chicago Tribune
"A whimsical adventure with a large dose of humor? Yes, please! This story spoke to my inner child, who suffered too many boring summer vacations and longed to discover something magical and exciting in my own backyard."—Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code
"For boys and girls alike, this story sings.”—Blue Balliett, award-winning author of Chasing Vermeer
“A towering tale filled with astonishing action, amazing characters, and two very daring adventurers.”—David Lubar, author of the Monsterrific Tales series, the Weenies series, and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
About the Author
- Publisher : Puffin Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1101996234
- ISBN-13 : 978-1101996232
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Lexile measure : 790L
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 0.77 x 7.78 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #387,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Second full disclosure- the best book I read when I was in 5th grade was Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Breakfast of Champions’. I did not understand everything at the time, but I liked the first-person narrator and how he explained aspects of difficult people, beavers, and insanity.
I would have loved The Matchstick Castle in 5th grade- I love it now, but it especially would have made an impression on me then. I loved Brian’s first-person narration; it has an immediacy that brings us right into each scene, paints pictures with all the details and emotional textures.
Every boy wants to be Cosmo, every girl wants to be near Cosmo, and the truth is usually those boys and girls are either Brian and Nora, or you and me, stuck in a dull summer vacation, looking for thrills, romance, and wanting to break away, which is what makes this story tick. You can remember that one summer vacation where everything started out just fine – really boring, ok, but fine; then something strange and wonderful happened…and you were different by summer’s end. This is that story.
Myself, I would have totally signed up for a summer like this one, even with all the nail-biting terrifying parts. (Another disclosure – I am not fond of precarious heights or workmen with large machinery near my house).
Matchstick Castle is an adventurous fantastical romp that is totally believable, from the overgrown property next door with the wild boars and odd inhabitants to the straight-laced uncle and aunt and their moody, unpredictable hero daughter who totally transforms during the story (and frankly, saves everything- I am a big fan of Nora).
I liked the open ending; seems like there may be another adventure as a follow-up! Let’s hope so!
As the result of an argument, Nora chases Brian into the bordering woods where they are both forbidden to go. They get lost and stumble upon a six or seven story house made of wood with many unusual features and a cobbled together appearance. They can't resist going inside the house where they meet the irrepressible Cosmo, the youngest of the extended van Dash family of brilliant eccentrics. Soon Brian and Nora are sneaking off to spend time with the van Dashes and eventually join forces with them when a local bureaucracy threatens the house.
Graff has developed characters and narrative that add up to a witty, funny, fast-paced adventure story. At the same time, there are poignant elements: Brian's loneliness for his father and his older brothers; the growing friendship between Nora and Brian; Nora's increasing willingness to act on her own; and the mutual acceptance among Brian, Nora and the van Dash family. This combination of imaginative story-telling and development of emotional themes results in a particularly enjoyable reading experience