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.
Please don’t kill me, but this is actually my first Roald Dahl book. I have no idea why I never came across his books growing up. I started to know more of him after I started studying in London and people recommended me Matilda as the best one to start with.
Truthfully, I had so many mixed emotions while reading this. Firstly, it disturbed me how vile and terrible most of the adult characters in this book were. You have ignorant, absent parents who never once paid attention to Matilda, and the awful Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress feared by everyone. It made me wonder why did Dahl wrote about such horrific adults? Did he want young children to know that parents can be idiotic and selfish? Or that even teachers sometimes are cruel to children?How could no one every stood up to the horrifying Miss Trunchbull? Or was it Dahl’s plan to reflect society’s weakness in curbing high-power authority figures?
I guess that is what makes his writing unique. He brought out atypical characters that weren’t usually presented in children’s books. And he made us think what his motives were in presenting such treacherous characters for young readers. And he did inspire more darker children’s stories by doing so. I guess sugar-coating children’s books are no longer the trend now, eh?
Reading this as an adult and a first timer really brought about a different experience. I honestly felt the adult characters were wildly exaggerated but they were very symbolic of how absent parents can have an impact to a child’s development. Even a teacher’s role is important to flourish a student’s capabilities which is reflected by Miss Honey. But I guess the development of Matilda was subtle because she is extremely special. So special that even without a parent’s love, she thrives and becomes intelligent. I know the opposite will be the case for any normal child.
Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the plot overall! I loved reading Matilda devising plans to teach her parents lessons and what she did at the end was just brilliant. That ending was perfect in my opinion! I can’t believe I lived 24 years and have never got spoiled to the plot of Matilda HAHA.
The illustrations in this edition is also beautiful!
I definitely enjoyed this overall, but I don’t see myself trying all of his books in the near future. Maybe when I have kids on my own, I’ll definitely introduce them to Dahl and make them think more of this stories 😉