The Matchstick Castle

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

An official 2018 ILLINOIS READS selection!

Recommended by John Green!

One of Evanston Public Library’s “Great Books for Kids”!



Brian can think of a few places he’d rather spend the summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole.

Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it’s not just a home—it’s a castle.

Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball.

This funny, fantastical story will resonate with any reader who’s ever wished a little adventure will find them.


Buy the book now!

>>From your favorite independent bookstore!

>>From Barnes & Noble

>>From Amazon

Also on audiobook!

>>Listen to a sample and then find your favorite retailer here!


Learn more about The Matchstick Castle!

Books by Booklist Authors,” by Daniel Kraus

Watch Keir’s “Behind the Book” interview with Follett Learning

Listen to Beth Golay’s “Marginalia” interview for KMUW

Get the “Heads Up” from Boys’ Life

Read Keir’s Q&A with Cracking the Cover

Catch up with Keir’s EarlyWord chat

Find out which authors have inspired Keir at Reading Is Better with Cupcakes

Praise for The Matchstick Castle!

“Graff neatly contains his wacky plot within narrator Brian’s Everykid voice, unspooling the looniness with transparent glee. Fast-paced, anarchic fun for reluctant and avid readers alike.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Graff fashions another fascinating character in the Matchstick Castle itself through detailed descriptions of its peculiar layout and secrets. Given the van Dash family’s knack for adventure, one can only hope Graff has plans for more ‘Boring’ stories.”

—Publishers Weekly

“This quirky novel is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie for the tweenage set. . . . For those who enjoy a bit of absurdist humor with their realism.”

—School Library Journal

“A zippy, adventurous romp in the woods complete with fierce animals and buried treasure.”

—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“what makes this book special is the way Graff evokes the excitement of new vistas . . . a compelling reminder that it’s a great big world out there, just waiting for the next generation of dreamers and explorers.”

—Chicago Tribune

“A towering tale filled with astonishing action, amazing characters, and two very daring adventurers.”

—David Lubar, author of the Monsterrific Tales series, the Weenies series, and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie

“For boys and girls alike, this story sings.”

—Blue Balliett, award-winning author of Chasing Vermeer

“A whimsical adventure with a large dose of humor? Yes, please! This story spoke to my inner child, who suffered too many boring summer vacations and longed to discover something magical and exciting in my own backyard.”

—Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, New York Times best-selling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code