Review: The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

matchbox diary

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

A great-grandfather shares his life’s story with his great-granddaughter who picks out a cigar box filled with matchboxes to find out more about.  He has been collecting matchboxes that are filled with small items documenting his life, a diary of objects.  They tell of his poor childhood in Italy where he’d be given an olive pit to suck on to make him less hungry.  There is a picture of his father who went to work in America and sent money home.  His story then turns into one of an immigrant with a trip to the port and then aboard a large ship.  He tells of arriving at Ellis Island, of the terror of possibly being denied entrance, and the eventual reunion with his father.  The entire family, including the children, worked to earn enough money to survive.  Life became better and he learned to read until he started in the printing industry and opened a bookstore. 

Fleischman writes of the tentative relationship of a young child and her great-grandfather who are just getting to know one another for the first time.  This is a story filled with small gems, treasures of stories that the two of them explore side by side.  The small matchboxes are a wonderful device to add surprise and delight to the story.  Fleischman has created an entire picture book told only in dialogue, making it a pleasure but challenge to read aloud. 

Ibatoulline’s illustrations are precise and detailed.  The matchboxes are shown up close and just opened, as if the reader had been the one exploring them.  The stories are shown in sepia tones with modern day in full color.  They are filled with a beautiful warmth in both cases.

A distinguished picture book, this is a brilliant combination of historical story and vivid illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

clementine and the spring trip

Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

In the latest installment of the Clementine series, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite series, Clementine is taking a spring field trip with her class to Plimoth Plantation.  Clementine has agreed to be partners with her friend Margaret on the trip, mostly because the fourth graders have a rule that you have to eat without making any noise.  Margaret wants to partner with Clementine too, since Clementine doesn’t mind dirty things at all and Margaret most definitely does.  Then a new classmate comes along and complicates things.  Olive has her own language that she teaches everyone and is well on her way to being very popular, when she is paired with Clementine for the field trip.  With all of their plans in disarray, what will happen on the field trip?

Just as with all of the Clementine books, Pennypacker has created a modern girl living in a modern family.  She merrily inserts levity throughout the book from the cleaning of the statues in the park to the stinky bus they have to take on the field trip.  The character of Clementine continues to be complex, artistic and monumentally creative.   This of course can lead to getting into trouble, but what jolly trouble it is!

This series belongs in every school and public library.  Get it into the hands of creative kids and those who want a good giggle.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that you might find interesting:


8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids From Reading

Children’s & YA Revenues Up Nearly 18% … via @galleycat

Love!-> Cleveland project to turn vacant lots into literary spaces inspired by children’s books. via @pageturner

Michael Morpurgo: my favourite children’s books – Telegraph

Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘Treasure Island’ author’s long-lost essay | Shelf Life


The Bestselling E-books of 2012

WHSmith Breaking Trust Putting DRM in eBooks without permission from the authors |


Congressman Already Claims That He Needs To Overturn Supreme Court Ruling In Kirtsaeng | Techdirt

Library Journal Movers & Shakers 2013

Oooh – love the furniture! RT @ucsf_library: Come to the party in the Library’s new Living Room, today at 3 pm!

Oxford librarian dismissed over Harlem Shake video – that she wasn’t in–Books

Play Boxes: Mini Playspaces in Your Library |

RT @hubbell Iraqi librarian saved 30,000 books during 2003 invasion /ht @elleryhubbell #librarians

RT @vpl: Have you ever wanted to be a librarian? Here are the skills you’ll need to become a 21st century librarian:

Stephen and Tabitha King offer to cover one-third of $9 million Bangor library renovation — Bangor Daily News

Supreme Court sides with bookseller in major copyright ruling, says resale is ok — paidContent

Why I Love Our Public Libraries | Open Book: Toronto

Wisconsin man banned from all libraries on earth | News|Home

Would More People Use the Public Library If It Had a Water Slide? – John Metcalfe-The Atlantic Cities


Intriguing-> Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future |

My Amazon bestseller made me nothing –

Newsroom Cutbacks Are Hurting Journalism, Study Shows

Simon & Schuster will give authors direct access to piracy data for their books — paidContent

This Is the Scariest Statistic About the Newspaper Business Today – Derek Thompson-The Atlantic


Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B |

Feedly picks up 500,000 new users following Google’s decision to can its Reader service – The Next Web

Google Reader Shutdown a Sobering Reminder That ‘Our’ Technology Isn’t Ours – Forbes

How to Backup Your Social Media Accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

How to use Twitter lists to replace Google Reader |

Pinterest rolls out a new look –

Social media life: What privacy? | The Great Debate

Why are one third of Americans turning their backs on high-speed Internet? | Digital Trends


Reading, Writing and Video Games –

Sex, Violence, and Radical Islam: Why ‘Persepolis’ Belongs in Public Schools – Noah Berlatsky-The Atlantic

Stacked: So You Want to Read YA?: Guest Post by Rae Carson (author of Girl of Fire and Thorns)