I have no idea why I haven’t read this book before. Because I was totally missing out. Matilda by Roald Dahl really is a book that every little girl, heck, every child should read. And so I’m glad that I stumbled upon it on my little children’s literature binge read.
Matilda grew up in a family that never really cared about her. Her father was in over his head selling stolen cars, her mother played bingo all the time and her brother was busy with his own life. So, starting from a very young age, Matilda was left to look after herself.
One day, to keep herself busy and to get away from the blaring TV set, she decides to go to the library to find a book. You wonder how a child aged four could possibly read? Well. With Matilda everything is possible. And so she returns to the library everyday and has soon read her way through the entire children’s section. What is the most logical next step, you ask? Reading an adult book. Obviously. 🙂 And no other than Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Despite not understanding everything, Matilda still likes the story and that’s how, at age four, she starts reading all the great classics that many adults haven’t yet dared to read.
Although the parents are ignorant, it is obvious to the reader that Matilda is a truly special child. She is, albeit strong tempered, a kind, intelligent, curious and open-minded little girl.
Her first day of school comes around and she is introduced to a whole new world of learning. Right on her first day, she renders her teacher Miss Honey speechless. First form pupils aren’t supposed to know the two times table. Miss Honey soon becomes more than just a teacher to Matilda and the two of them, bound by a similar background, form a beautiful friendship.
There are so many reasons why I think this book is so very special. And I don’t really know where to start… Which is why we are going to make a list. Because lists always make things easier. 🙂
I have read many books. But I feel like I’ve never come across a little girl with such a strong and admirable character as Matilda. She is, to me, what every little girl should be; determined, strong-willed, kind, smart, witty, funny, carefree, independent, loving and very open-minded. She might get up to some trouble – glueing her father’s hat to his head and all – but she is never evil. Plus, little girls are allowed to do some “nasty” things.
Matilda’s personality truly drives the book. Of course, she is the main character and what good would the book be if that weren’t the case. But she really brings the story to life. I saw her in front of me. I talked to her and I let her into my heart. Who cares that I’m 25 years old? Who cares that the story wasn’t written for me? Nobody. At least not me. 🙂 Matilda might be a children’s book, but I feel like it might be even more special to the adult reader.
2. Miss Honey
Maybe I’m biased here. But I feel like Miss Honey is what every teacher should be. She truly cares about her students and makes learning fun. She is the storybook teacher, really. But more than that, she is a truly admirable adult, always looking for the good in people and helping whenever she can.
She might be a bit too perfect to be real, but I feel like that’s what the book needs. It needs a character like Miss Honey to balance out the nasty headmaster and make Matilda and thus the reader feel at home while at school.
3. Roald Dahl and his writing
As far as I can remember, Matilda is my first Roald Dahl book. But it surely won’t be the last. Because I fell in love with his way of storytelling. I haven’t quite figured out yet how he does it, but Roald Dahl manages to draw in the reader from the very first page and make him soaked up every single word.
I can easily see how children would love his way of writing because it is very alive. Reading the book felt like listening to him tell a story. It was like he was there in the room; sitting on an armchair in front of a fire with all the kids gathered around his feet.
To me, his writing brings back memories of a carefree childhood centered around adventures and stories. And maybe that’s why the book appeals to adults as much as it appeals to children.
4. The Message
I find it hard to define one single message that the book tries to convey (apart from the obvious “school can be fun” one.) 🙂 The book is much too complex for that. But if you would ask me now what the book is really about, then I would say the following: Matilda is about being independent, about being your own person and following your own dreams. It’s a story about a girl getting far in life because of her kindness. It’s about getting lost in the stories of books and at the same time going on real-life adventures…
I don’t know really. There’s so much that the book conveys and I feel like you would have to read it several times to really grasp all the different layers.
These are only four points and I don’t really feel like they do the book justice. But as with all good stories, I find it’s much easier to read them yourself and make up your own opinion. No rambling of mine could ever do Roald Dahl’s Matilda any justice.
So if you haven’t read the book yet or are currently on the lookout for a book to read to your kids or pupils, I cannot recommend Matilda enough. You will entertain not only little boys and girls, but also many adults.