The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
A breathtaking immigration tale with appeal across generations.
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.