Monday, January 2, 2017

Matilda - Review from the Children's Section

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction.  This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday (except for February which will be the 2nd Monday).

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Rating: Loved it!
Source: Library (audio)

Description:  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.

Genre: Middle Grade

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I read it a couple of years ago and have been wanting to read more Dahl.  The bookishness of this one appealed to me.

My Impression:  On the list of books that I would slip onto my childhood bookshelf if I had a time machine Roald Dahl's Matilda just found it's place on the top.   Was there ever a villain more terrifying than Miss Trunchbull?  Parents as uncaring as the Wormwoods?  Or a hero as heroic as Matilda?  Not to mention the courage shown by little Lavender and Miss Honey.
I've been in a Middle Grade mood lately and had heard raves and raves about Matilda.  Since I had read and enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year I really wanted to try more Dahl.  The primary issue with Charlie was that because I had seen the movie multiple times it kind of overrode Dahl's descriptions.  With Matilda I was completely new to the story.  I'd never seen the movie and really the only thing I knew was that the main character liked to read.  I'm so glad I went into this not knowing much about it as I was completely captivated.  I loved Miss Honey from the first and I held my breath right along with the children when Miss Trunchbull entered the scene.  Dahl doesn't lose his fantastic-ness with Matilda and his sense of wonder is almost palpable in the text but at the same time I found this little book easy to relate to.  I can see children who are bright and maybe don't fit in completely identifying with Matilda and delighting in her pranks just the same way I did.  This has definitely inspired me to read more Dahl and I will be seeing the movie sooner rather than later.

I listened to the audio edition of this book and adored it.  The narrator did a fantastic job with making the voices wonderfully different without becoming too strained.  When I went to see who it was it was the incredible Kate Winslet so no surprise at how beautifully it was read.  If you're new to this book or are looking to reread it I highly recommend finding this edition and I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I loved this one and can't wait to read more Dahl.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  I think this book would be wonderful for 2nd grade (age 7 or so) and up and reads well from an adult perspective as well.


  1. I was keen to read your thoughts on Matilda - thanks for sharing! Also, I love the idea of Middle Grade Monday!

  2. I ADORED this book as a child! I felt such a connection to Matilda because of her love of books - not the rest obviously - and I just hated Miss Trunchbull! I think it's awesome that it's now in audio form and with Kate Winslet! I had no idea that the author was the same as Charley and the Chocolate Factory though. How cool - you learn something new every day. Thanks for the walk down memory lane :)

  3. This book was published after I was a child although I loved many other of Dahl's stories but I got to know Matilda through my bookish daughter's eyes - a real masterpiece and as you say Mrs Trunchball is a brilliant villain

  4. Matilda is one of my all time favorite kids books. Dahl had such a wicked sense of humor!

  5. I absolutely love the movie but have never thought to pick up the book. I might need to pick up a few kids books this year. I enjoy them but never think of them when I am picking out a new read. Great review!

  6. This sounds delightful. I'm adding a children's books feature to my sight and looking for some wonderful books to share.

  7. Great to hear you loved it and the audio was excellent. I loved reading his books to my classes. Danny Champion of the World was one of my favs.

  8. I'm so glad you loved this. I could swear I read this in my younger years, but I often wonder if I am just remembering the movies. Either way, I think it would be fun to re-visit it. I'm considering joining the Classics Club, and I think this would be perfect for that.

  9. I am so glad you loved this! It's one of my favorites. My fourth grade teacher read this aloud to his class, and I'm so glad he did, because it's been a favorite ever since. Are you a musical person? If yes, you should check out youtube for some of the numbers from the musical Matilda because it's wonderful, too!

  10. Thanks for giving the narrator! I like to do re-reads with audiobooks and I intend to re-read this sometime soon. I didn't have this or Charlie, either. I would definitely jump in that time machine with you. :)

  11. I haven't read Matilda but saw the movie a long time ago. Jellybean read it before break and loved it. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite of Dahl's. Gene Wilder will forever live in my heart.