Matilda by Roald Dahl
Summary: 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, Miss (“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.
A Precocious Prodigy
I was one smart cookie when I was a kid, but Matilda has me beat by a long shot. While I spent my youth reading Goosebumps and Nancy Drew, Matilda is out here reading the all time greats in the literary world! Jane Eyre is my favorite book, but I didn’t read it for the first time until I was 12. Matilda knocked that out before she was 5. I am both in awe of such an accomplishment and jealous of her ability to spend the entire day at the library reading great works of fiction.
Even with starting school at 5 ½, Matilda is light years ahead of the other kids in her class. Obviously, it’s because she is devouring Charles Dickens, while the other kids are struggling to get through Dr. Seuss. This girl is so freaking smart she could probably be a board-certified neurosurgeon before the rest of the kids graduated high school! I don’t know if reading a book like Matilda as a kid would have been inspirational or made me feel like a failure.
Is it me or is Matilda a smidge dark for a children’s book? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love dark and twisty as much as the next weirdo, but I wondered for a moment if this book was okay with kids. Luckily, I quickly dismissed those feelings. There is no need to coddle children all the time. They are much smarter, self-aware, and observant than adults give them credit. There is no need to keep them from knowing life isn’t always a bed of roses and sometimes stupid crap beyond your control comes around to ruin your life. The thing is to not let that stuff keep you down. Just like Matilda, we have to use our talents and gifts to help ourselves and those around us who are in need. Reading Matilda can help us become better humans.
I really enjoyed Matilda from start to finish. It was funny, and there were even a few little surprises! I cannot recommend Matilda enough. This is a great one to start your family book club because both kids and adults will really enjoy it. Rating: Carpe Librum