Author: Roald Dahl

Year: 1988

Since receiving a Roald Dahl box set of books as a gift, my family & I have been enjoying reading these classic novels together, and I have enjoyed revisiting stories I read & loved so many years ago.  Dahl wrote with such whimsy, combined with a darkness that’s always present, but with happy endings that make for fantastic fantasies.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are some we’ve read together, and all are great stories made into good movies.  Here’s another in Matilda, a book with a sad element, an adventure unlike any other, and ultimately a pleasant finish that captures the imaginations of adults & children alike.

Matilda Wormwood doesn’t exactly fit into her family.  Her father is a ratty used car salesman, her mother only enjoys bingo, and her brother is simply following in the footsteps of his unimaginative parents.  Matilda loves books, and at an early age realizes that they are a way to transport her out of her stifling existence into lands of mystery and entertainment.  She can read books much over her level, Charles Dickens is her favorite, and even before she enters school she’s showing signs of incredible genius.  She can even move objects with her mind, a power she discovers when confronted by her terrible principle The Trunchbull, who is the exact opposite of Matilda’s sweet teacher Ms. Honey, the only adult who understands her aptitude.

This might not be my absolute favorite Roald Dahl story, mostly because it doesn’t exactly have an action-packed element like some of his others, but I enjoyed it all the same, a pleasant tale of a special child whose life is darkened by adults but whose destiny is much brighter.  Matilda is a great character, and her antics at school are the stuff of legend, as is the great Trunchbull, a demon of an educator who rivals the best villains of modern literature.  Dahl writes with such simplicity, you don’t get blindsided by surprises or twists, you simply sail along with events until you reach what is usually a happy ending.  Read for a nice time, share it with you kids, keep the magic alive.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆