The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

This book has been nominated for the Cybils award.  This review reflects my opinion, not that of the Cybils committee.

The Matchstick Castle by Keir GraffThe Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017.
Brian’s father is travelling for the summer, and Brian is being farmed off to stay with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois.  There, he and his rule-following cousin Nora are expected to spend their days on the computer doing schoolwork, “beta testing” the uncle’s program.  (I put that in quotes because true beta testing should involve feedback, and feedback is definitely not welcome here.)  Not only is Brian missing his summer soccer league, but Nora isn’t interested in playing, and he’s not allowed out of the yard to find anyone else to play with.  Summer is shaping up to be the worst, most boring ever when….

Brian runs away into the forbidden woods that back up to yard!  Wandering through it, he finds the Matchstick Castle, a crazy, falling apart building inhabited by Cosmo, a boy about Brian and Nora’s age, and his crazy uncles – one of whom got lost in it a year or so ago.  (Cosmo’s aviatrix mother, Anthea, flies in near the end of the story.) Soon he and Nora are both escaping to the castle, both for the fun, and because they realize that the Matchstick Castle is slated to be demolished to make way for a new beige subdivision.  Can they save it?  Can they find the treasure that’s rumored to be buried underneath it, which would hopefully allow the building to be repaired?

“Madcap” is the best word I can think of to describe this book.  Brian’s ordinary-to-him life transforms into cartoons at two ends of the spectrum, between unbelievably boring and unbelievably crazy.  The only theme I’d care to speculate on there being here is the value of free time and exploration.  But really I think it’s all about the adventure and the craziness where the kids are the ones reminding the adults to find a happy medium.  I would have liked there to be any diversity here – but it is one that should appeal to a wide variety of kids.

This book has been nominated for the Cybils award.  This review reflects my opinion, not that of the Cybils committee.

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About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
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