Tuesday, 30 December 2008

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to me...Six Geese-a-laying

"Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-year’s eve..."

Thoughts of geese and Christmas conjure up many images from my favourite fairy tales, of princes transformed into birds, and sad little snow girls, and this line is taken from one of Hans Christian Andersen's best known stories, "The Little Match Girl".

Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. This year, Ellen Silva commissioned Gregory Maguire who reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic "The Little Match Girl" for a new time and new audiences. You can read the story in four parts, starting here, at NPR.

Maguire's new piece, entitled, "Matchless," re-illuminates Andersen's classic, using his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit and the continuity that links the living and the dead.

An illustrated gift edition of "Matchless" will be published by William Morrow in fall 2009.

"Andersen's ‘The Little Match Girl’ is a more luckless relative of the likes of Oliver Twist, Sara Crewe and Little Orphan Annie,” says Maguire. “Her brief life and sad demise could bring 19th century readers to tears, and did. Now, while we shudder at the fatalism of her plight, we can't deny the grip that cold and hunger maintains over the poor. In 'Matchless' I tried to honor Andersen's original tale while maintaining the poignancy of the central event, and by setting it in a larger context I hoped to extend and perhaps refresh its ability to console."

Learn more about Gregory Maguire at his website.

He is the award winning author of many children's books, and his novel Wicked, was adapted as a stage musical.

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