4 out of 5 stars
This was such a cute book. I am not sure how I actually made it to adulthood without ever having read Roald Dahl’s Matilda, but I somehow did. Matilda was one of my favorite films when I was a child, so it was fun to revisit the story through the original source.
I am sure almost everyone is familiar with the story—Matilda, neglected wonder-kid, learns to read at a very young age and seeks refuge in books to escape her horrid family. She reads everything her local library has to offer from Dickens, to Hemingway, to Conrad. Although Matilda’s family present substantial obstacles in the story, she doesn’t meet her real nemesis until she starts school at Crunchem Hall and first encounters Miss Trunchbull. The description of The Trunchbull was superb and made me laugh out loud:
“Her face, I’m afraid, was neither a thing of beauty nor a joy forever. She had an obstinate chin, a cruel mouth and small arrogant eyes. And as for her clothes . . . they were, to say the least, extremely odd.”
Aside from Matilda, Miss Honey was one of my favorite characters in the book. In comparison with the film, I felt that Miss Honey was a bit more assertive in the book. From what I remember of the film, she was quite a sweet and meek character, but in the book, she stands up to Matilda’s parents and is less of a shrinking violet than I thought she would be.
It’s easy to see why Dahl’s books are classic children’s literature. His descriptions have that absurd and silly quality that children really enjoy. I like the fact that Matilda seems to know no limitations. I really like the fact that Matilda is an exceptional and self-assured female character. She is unapologetic for her intelligence without being boastful. I think those are really good traits for a character to possess in a children’s book, especially when said character is the heroine.
I really enjoyed reading this. It was a nice escape in the evenings and brought many smiles to my face. If you have some little ones in your life who are in need of gifts, I think Dahl’s books are just as enjoyable today as they were 25 years ago.