OH MY GOODNESS DID I FORGET HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It was way better than I remembered, although the whole time I was reading the book I couldn’t get Danny DeVito out of my mind. Not a pleasant sight to have trapped in your minds eye, unless you’re particularly fond of tiny sweaty men. I’m just saying.
Anyway, Matilda by Roald Dahl is the story of the precocious and brilliant child, Matilda, and the teacher who loves her and the family that doesn’t. Matilda teaches herself to read by the age of three and, soon after that, is making daily trips on foot to the local library to sit and read for hours and hours while her mother is out playing bingo and her father is at work as a deliberately shoddy car salesman. She soon begins attending school, where her teacher Miss Honey realizes for the first time just how brilliant Matilda truly is, and how much love and care she deserves. This flies in complete contrast to her family, who are constantly telling Matilda to shut up, watch TV, and stop being so darn smart. Add to this mix the horribly scary headmistress of Matilda’s school, Ms. Trunchbull, and the fact that Matilda can run miles around her family, intellectually, and what you have is a delightful child that any can admire who uses her own gifts to get revenge on those most horrible to her.
And boy does she get revenge! Many of the greatest pranks are in the movie – switching out her dads hair gel so he ends up dying his hair bright blonde, gluing his hat to his head – there is one that doesn’t, and it happens to be my favorite. Matilda borrows a parrot from a neighbor and, after stuffing it and its cage in to the fire place, manages to convince her parents that the house is haunted. It’s hilarious! Especially consider that Matilda is, like, five when she does it.
Roald Dahl is, in my opinion, the master of silliness. In a good way. And I mean this with no offense, but Lewis Carroll and his Alice be damned, I want Matilda! Dahl managed to create a character that is not only brilliant and hilarious, but is able to overcome the odds of having everyone in her life dislike and underestimate her. This is also the reason I love Miss Honey so much. The actress who plays her in the movie (who’s name I don’t remember and don’t have nearby) is darling, but the Miss Honey of the book is much better. She’s less helpless, less overwhelmingly sad, and seems to be an even better mother figure for Matilda as the book progresses.
I want to mention some flaws with the book. I really do. But it’s not that kind of book. It’s a kids book. That’s not meant to say that kid’s books don’t matter, that they don’t have flaws, that they can’t be bad or good or…anything that normal books can do. But, at least for me and at least this time, there aren’t really any flaws with this particular children’s book. It’s silly and fun, it’s uplifiting and, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a child as smart and sweet as Matilda in their life? I’d say give it a go if you’re looking for something light, something fun, and something overwhelmingly easy to get through. My edition was maybe 250 pages, with big type and margins, and I managed to breeze through it in, like, a night. Literally. So do yourself a favor, and get yourself some Dahl. Happy reading!