Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

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 think I may have read this book as a child, but it's been so long that the only thing I remember is the movie Matilda.

In Matilda, Matilda is a young, brilliant child with neglectful parents. When Matilda starts going to school, her teacher takes an interest in her, mostly because of her intelligence and humility. Matilda's headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, however, is a horrible lady to everyone. She scares most of the children, but she meets her match in Matilda.

I like the illustrations in this book as I've come to expect this style when reading Roald Dahl books. They're not particularly beautiful but they are quirky and somehow fit with Roald Dahl's writing style.

If you've seen the movie, the book follows the same narrative, although there were some scenes and characters here that aren't in the movie. The vibe is a little different too. While the movie is charming and sweet, the book is slightly sharper and more biting in tone, but funnier.

As a kid, I liked that Matilda was smart and a bookworm. I still like that fact, and I appreciate that Matilda makes reading look cool.

From what I remember, the things I got most from the movie, was letting your light shine, and that punishing others when they do something bad can be hilarious and maybe even good. Now that I've read the book as an adult, though, I noticed a couple of things that I didn't really pay much attention or felt too outraged about back then.

Matilda's parents were terrible parents. It is absolutely unacceptable to treat your child in the manner that they treated Matilda. Miss Trunchbull is also a very bad person, and that kind of behavior is definitely not going to fly in this day and age.

If you've read Matilda before, I suggest you read it again as an adult. If you haven't read it at all, you should give this book a try.


  1. Matilda is an amazing child.
  2. The story isn't as simple as it sounds.
  3. There are some funny moments here. 


  1. If you saw the movie first and loved it, you might find yourself preferring the movie over the book.

“Here it is,' Nigel said.
Mrs D, Mrs I, Mrs FFI, Mrs C, Mrs U, Mrs LTY. That spells difficulty.'
How perfectly ridiculous!' snorted Miss Trunchbull. 'Why are all these women married?”

  1. You haven't read Matilda before.
  2. You like protagonists who are bookworms.
  3. You like bullied characters who fight back. 




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