The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman


The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

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, containing 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 stone his mother gave him to suck on when there wasn't enough food; a hairpin he found on 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 towards each other.


A moving glimpse into (the character's) childhood. The Bookseller

About the Author

Paul Fleischman

As a child: I had an idyllic childhood ten blocks from the Pacific in Santa Monica, California. My two sisters and I had a big house to roam, one that included a telescope, shortwave radio, and a door that opened onto a wall. We also had a hand printing press and all learned to set type and to read backwards, since that's the way type is arranged in the composing stick. I had my own printing business in my teenage years. We also grew up with an author in the house, my father, Sid Fleischman, whose books we were privileged to hear read aloud, chapter by chapter, as they were written. That turned out to be a huge part of my education.

As an adult: I took classes in everything but writing in college -- from astronomy to folkdancing to film history. I took off two years and lived in a colonial-era house in the woods of New England. That experience kindled an interest in history and nature, just as playing recorder in an early-music consort there awakened me to the joys of chamber music. Many of the books I've written since have come out of those interests, from historical fiction to poems for multiple voices. After living in many parts of the U.S., I'm now a short distance from Monterey, California, where I was born.

As an artist: I like variety, and have written in just about every genre, from the wordless book to opera. I like to feel fresh ground under my feet and am drawn to new types of books: using newspaper clippings with text (Dateline: Troy), writing for consorts (Big Talk), bridging prose and plays (Seek and Breakout). The sound of the human voice excites me, and the idea of bringing people together. I often write books that lend themselves to performance, scaled not for the theatre, but for the living room -- where my father read his books.

Things you didn't know about Paul Fleischman:

1. I joined fifteen other writers and artists in a book devoted to the letter "a.".
2. I have a border collie named Jingo.
3. My high school friends and I had an alternate world a bit like Weslandia, complete with an invented sport called Skrugby and our own underground school newspaper.
4. Some of those friends successfully stole the copy of Gainsborough's The Blue Boy from our high school library and held it for ransom.
5. As no staff members noticed, we had to print a story on the theft in our newspaper.
6. Writers need a day job when they're starting out. My first one was as a bagel baker.
7. I rode a bicycle from Los Angeles to Vancouver when I was 19.
8. In my teens and twenties my handwriting was so small that I could fit four or five lines between the lines on a page of notebook paper.
9. For several years I hosted a party in which we competed in reading the worst passages from Christmas newsletters we'd received. Medals were given.
10. I have frequent daydreams in which Beethoven returns to the present and I am his guide.

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Book Info


40 pages
Interest Age: From 5


Paul Fleischman
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Author's Website


Publication date

3rd July 2014



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