Book Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

August 3, 2013 Review 3 ★★★★

Book Review: Matilda by Roald DahlMatilda by Roald Dahl
Series: Standalone
Published by Puffin on 1998 June 1
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she's knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she's a super-nerd and the teacher's pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda's world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there's the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. ("The") Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

I don’t know about you but my Y/A years have been in a way shaped by Roald Dahl and his stories. Roald Dahl may have come late into my life—with me preferring to spend my childhood playing under the sun rather than read book indoors—but they never failed to remind me of the importance of goodness and that unpleasant deeds would always reap retribution either directly or indirectly. And this perhaps is best conveyed by Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

The story of Matilda brings us to the lives of the Wormwood family members who—except for Matilda—were not only crooked but cruel as well. Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood were so immersed in their world of crookedness that they failed to see that they have been blessed with a gifted child, Matilda. Instead of praising Matilda’s feat of brilliance, they thought that she was an ignorant little twit. And as if the gods are conspiring against her, Matilda’s headmistress—the Trunchbull—at school was ten times more horrible and whose favorite plaything were kids. Matilda must rise up to the challenge and get rid of the Trunchbull for good.

While full of engaging and humorous scenes, Matilda is an honest story about the two faces of human nature, the good and the bad. The early chapters gave us a clear picture that cruelty starts at home. Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood’s refusal or more likely ignorance of Matilda’s gift and chastising her for being an annoying chatterbox is already tantamount to child abuse. And this became even clearer when they decided to leave Matilda behind without a qualm. Then there’s the ugly side of leadership represented by the menacing Trunchbull who was not only a usurper but a big time bully as well who will definitely ruin a kid’s childhood.

On the other hand, despite growing up in a dysfunctional household, Matilda remained pure and rose from the baser nature of human ugliness. Her firm principle as a young girl is no mean feat as she refused to be corrupted by her parents’ shady ways. Instead, she assertively took actions to ensure that the bullies got their own dose of medicine. Matilda’s ingenuity, courage and compassion are the things that really draw me me to it. The laughter and the fluffiness were just an added bonus.

Matilda will surely captivate the hearts of the readers. 😀

3 Responses to “Book Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl”

  1. alyssa zech

    I love that you reviewed Matilda! Honestly? Never read it, and the movie weirded me out a little. I am still hoping to have it be a book I read with my Baby Girl when she is older!

  2. Charlotte Fiel

    @alyssa zech

    One of the things that draw me into reading a lot of Children's books–despite my age–is because wonderful books such as Matilda exists. I hope that your baby girl grow up soon so we can compare reviews. 😀

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Charlotte Fiel

    @alyssa zech

    One of the things that draw me into reading a lot of Children's books–despite my age–is because wonderful books such as Matilda exists. I hope that your baby girl grow up soon so we can compare reviews. 😀

    Thanks for stopping by.

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