What an honor! New York Times bestselling author of Wicked, and most recently Lion Among Men and Matchless, Gregory Maguire is here at my Holiday Open House! And just like at a cocktail party, he's sharing his current favorite book. Read on to find out what it is, perhaps it's one you'll want to buy for the child in your life (or in you!) this year. Be sure to see what Adriana Trigiani and Susan McBride had to say at the Open House, and I think Jacqueline Sheehan is on her way in next!
Having just written and published my own take on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," called Matchless, I suppose you will be not be surprised to find out that a book of Andersen stories is one of my current favorites. It is called Twelve Tales: Hans Christian Andersen, selected, translated and illustrated by Erik Blegvad. I love it for its artwork--Blegvad draws tight, crisp, droll scenes of great particularity and humor, which suits the stories. Magic, we all know, is much more believable when it is portrayed as snappily there, as real as a Nutcracker or a Little Mermaid or a Steadfast Tin Soldier: a real thing. None of this wispy gauzy fairies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden that you can't bring into focus (or you'd find out there were scraps of Burger King wrappings blown into the forsythia fronds). We want crisp actuality for fantasy, and Blegvad draws it as well as Andersen tells it. That's what Andersen gave to the fairy tale, and how he revitalized it almost single-handedly: He gave it particularity. That's what I tried to give to Matchless, too. I hope my story of Frederik on his island, and his meeting of the Little Match Girl, is as real as Andersen's tale. And my own drawings derive their strict line and their cross-hatching from my own love of Erik Blegvad's work. Check them both out!
Cheers, Gregory Maguire