Cover image for The secret in the matchbox
The secret in the matchbox
Willis, Val.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1988.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.1 0.5 18690.
Added Author:
Format :

On Order



Bobby takes his matchbox containing an awesome secret to school, where the class slowly and horrifyingly becomes involved with the contents.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. Inside his pocket, Bobby Bell's fingers guardedly curl around a matchbox that contains a secret-a miniature dragon. When it climbs from the box and grows larger, Bobby's teacher makes him leave the container on her desk. As the ever-larger dragon distracts the students, the stubbornly impervious Miss Potts refuses to take notice until the beast's fiery breath melts the modeling clay and turns the fish-tank water to steam. Then, at long last, the picked-upon Bobby is put in control and with a touch of his finger shrinks the dragon, tucks it back into the matchbox, and enjoys his hard-won moment in the limelight. Classroom drudgery explodes in Shelley's depictions of the fantasy monster encroaching on the apathetic students. His flurry of activity would edge off the pages were it not for borders of bizarre, often gargoylesque drawings containing the chaotic scenes. The overall effect is very busy, but will be pleasing to youngsters enthralled by the possibility of hiding a show-stopping surprise in the palms of their hands. EM. School stories [OCLC] 87-46000

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fanciful, intricately detailed borders frame the droll tale of Amysterious Bobby Bell, whose secret is a tiny dragon that escapes from its matchbox dwelling and grows at an alarming rate. Ages 3-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3 When Bobby Bell's efforts to show the contents of his matchbox result in confiscation by the teacher, Bobby warns, ``She'll be sorry.'' The teacher can't resist a peek into the box and releases a tiny dragon which begins to grow. The children see the dragon, but Miss Potts is so preoccupied that she ignores children's warnings and doesn't look up until the dragon is huge and has set the wastebasket on fire. Bobby touches the dragon, making it shrink until it fits back into the matchbox. Willis writes in a deliberate, understated style, which lets suspense build nicely. The fact that the story is one of real magic rather than a dream makes it even more satisfying. The full-color illustrations feature a lively, multi-racial group of children. They complement the story well, humorously portraying the children with oversized eyes and some other exaggerated features which suit the unfolding drama. Interesting perspective is used to show both the growing size of the dragon and its effect on the class. Borders filled with fascinating little pictures of the children, teacher, dragon, and other animals doing silly, absurd things or reinforcing events of the story surround each page. A delightful and original story, perfect for reading aloud and for individual enjoyment. Jane Gardner Connor, formerly at South Carolina State Library, Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.