A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{November 20, 2012}   Matilda by Roald Dahl

Plot: Matilda is a precocious girl surrounded by adults who do not appreciate her genius. Fortunately she is not afraid to teach the grown-ups a lesson when they deserve it. When she starts school, she is confronted with the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, a woman even more horrible than her parents. Miss Trunchbull has been torturing children for years and she has made sweet Miss Honey’s life a misery. But she may have met her match in a tiny little girl named Matilda.

I have a confession: I had never read Matilda, or any other Dahl book, before last week. I knew of them, of course; it would be hard to do my job and not know of Dahl, at least  (plus there’s a Johnny Depp movie, I wouldn’t have missed that). But none of his books were ever put in my path as a child. A shame, I think the young me would have loved this book.

Matilda is hard to dislike: she is a reader through and through. And though most of us didn’t teach ourselves to read at two years old, I think we can appreciate her passion for books. But don’t be fooled into thinking that our heroine is a sweet, quiet bookworm! She has to deal with some absolutely horrible grown-ups and she refuses to simply put up with their behavior. At the tender age of four, she decides that if anyone treated her badly (as her parent’s were wont to do) she would pay them back for it. There are quite a few amazing pranks in the book as a result. I think this is half the fun for children (and the child in me), Matilda is constantly outsmarting and making fools of the adults around her.

Matilda is my favorite but I must admit that, though she is the villain, I love Miss Trunchbull. She hates the children in her school and is absolutely terrible to them. But she is terrible to them in such an exaggerated way – tossing a small girl over a fence by her pigtails, for example – that no parent would believe complaints about her. It really is wickedly brilliant. It is only right that Matilda teaches her a lesson in the end but the book wouldn’t be half as much fun without her.

Matilda is a clever and funny book. Dahl has an ease with language and a wonderfully irreverent sense of humour. He really speaks to the child in me. I’ll be reading more of his books over the next few weeks (I bought a lovely box set) and I’m honestly looking forward to it.

2012 (#105)


[…] some ridiculously cruel and lazy adults (though the aunts have nothing and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda) but it doesn’t dwell on them. The story centers rather on James, his new friends the giant […]

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