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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Matchstick Castle -- Book Review & Blog Tour

Disclosure: Penguin Random House Books gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.  As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.


Today I am participating in the blog tour for a great new middle grade book that has adventures throughout it. The book is The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff.  This book has quite the fantasy in it with every day humans.

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/530533/the-matchstick-castle-by-keir-graff/

 Brian's father gets to follow his life's dream of going to the Antarctica to research using the large and powerful telescope. Unfortunately it means Brian gets sent to spend his summer with his uncle and his family (that he barely knows) in Boring, Illinois. (There is not an actual town in Illinois named Boring but there is one in Oregon.) And it gets worse for Brian. His Uncle Gary has a new computer software he is testing so Brian is basically doing summer school on the computer with his cousin, Nora. Brian decides to check out the woods behind the house and gets in trouble for it. One day Nora and Brian end up lost in the woods during a bit of teasing and fighting. They find a weird and yet impossibly structured house with a boat on top of it. It doesn't look like it should still be standing and it is on a street called Matchstick Lane. The house has the nickname of Matchstick Castle by the unusual family that lives there. 

Brian and Nora are immediately drawn into the adventure of Cosmo. A boy around their age that lives in Matchstick Castle with his parents and uncles. He mentions his family's adventures like they are well known, but Nora and Brian have no idea of them and the places he mentions are unheard of as well for the most part. After fighting huge Amazon wasps without destroying the house, they are invited for dinner. Brian accidentally takes one of the official letters that were piled up unopnened and realized the town of Boring is about to destroy Matchstick Castle. The fight is on to save it and with the unusual family members and adventures the fun and danger never seems to end in Matchstick Castle. With a few times of being grounded, Nora and Brian still find ways to be with their new friend and help his family save their home. 

This story draws you in and takes you on some crazy twists and turns. It is obvious that most could not really happen, but it doesn't matter much because you want to see what will happen next. Let's face it you cannot predict what will happen so you have to keep reading to know. I can see this book really attracting young readers and getting them engrossed in this crazy tale. I know Hazel was upset with me that I was not reading it to her as well. (I read faster when I don't read it to her and needed to finish it quickly.) She cannot wait to read it or have it read to her. I'm not sure which is going to happen. It is a fun book that has hints of historic events but not all truth in them. The family has an author, an explorer, a hunter and a cook, and a mother who is re-enacting Amelia Earhart's flight.   


For an activity with this book I immediately thought of a group building activity I did once. It was like this one at Teampedia.  Since we did not have teams I did not do it though. Then I thought of the toothpick bridges I once did with a geometry class. I figured matchsticks could be used instead of toothpicks, but I remembered it did not turn out how I had hoped and took a very long time. But I started to look for ideas of building with matchsticks. There are some amazing ones out there. 

MatchstickGatehouse
Matchstick Model of Gate House of a Prison made by a Prisoner
Of course I do not have the time or patience to make such a building, but I did find this Matchstick Cube Tutorial. I did not do it all but started it.

There are actually quite a few matchstick building activities for kids out there. I could see building a house or a boat. What can you make? I hope you will check out this fun book and perhaps build your own matchstick castle!!