The Matchbox Diary


Title: The Matchbox Diary

Author: Paul Fleischman

Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Year: 2013

Number of Pages: 40

Tags: Culture, Emotion, Family, Fiction, Historical fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Taylor Krueger

Genre: Historical Fiction Children’s Book

Analysis: This book shares the story of a young girl and her grandfather and the diary that impacts their life. The grandfather shows the girl his matchbox diary that contains memories from his past. His family was immigrants from Italy, and they experienced the long journey on the ship to America. Grandfather told his life story and the reasons for putting the items in his matchbox diary. The young girl appreciates her grandfather’s story and begins to think of momentos she can add to her very own matchbox diary.

The illustrations of this book take up the majority of the page. The illustrations of the grandfather’s journey of immigrating to America are bordered by thick lines. The borders of thick lines could represent the length of the journey as it was a long and miserable period of time. The bordered illustrations allow the reader a small glimpse into the world of the characters. It lets the reader peer into the experiences and journeys the characters endured during this time period of immigration. The illustrations create a window effect for the reader to look into a world of the past. The reader seems to always be watching the character’s from afar due to the bordering of the illustrations. There are illustrations that are from present time where the grandfather is talking to the young girl. These images are bordered by the edges of the page rather than thick lines. The changes of imagery show the reader the change in the time periods. There are small illustrations that are present on the pages that contain the text. These are always images of the matchboxes and the items that are placed inside during the grandfather’s journey.

The colors used throughout the book change as there are different time periods represented. The illustrations that share the grandfather’s immigration experiences are in black and white. They are faded images that allow the reader to understand the aging of the time. The illustrations of present time are bright and cheery. There are shades of red, brown, and blues to share the emotions of the characters.

The illustrations of the characters and settings have the perceptual view of the grandfather sharing his memories with his granddaughter. There are depictions of his family receiving letters from their father, him as child traveling on ship to America, and the experiences of his family adjusting to their new life in America. The structural view of the characters show the representation of strength. There is a transformation of facial expressions of the characters throughout the book as the beginning illustrations show sadness and worry that the family will not make it through the long journey to America. Throughout the book the family finds comfort in their new home and the grandfather is proud of his matchbox diary. These illustrations show happiness and calmness in the facial expressions of the characters. The characters throughout the book are shown to be the same size, but once the grandfather learns to read and write and make a living for himself he is depicted to be more confident and larger on the page.

This book shows the historical ideological experience of immigration for many families. It gives information on the journey people have to change their lives for the better. This book shares the story of a family going through the rough ship ride to America in order to reconnect with their father. It allows young children to understand the history of immigration and the problems that people were faced with on their journey to America.

This book is a representation of a multimodal text. There is an interaction between the text and the illustrations that fill in the gaps for the reader. The illustrations enhance the meaning of the text and the stories that are shared. It gives a visual representation of the words throughout the book. The text and illustrations elaborate the powerful and heartfelt experiences of the characters and the overall message of the story. They are both equally important in order for the message to be understood by young readers.

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