Matilda is a simple story. The book's young namesake is a brilliant and precocious child who not only teaches herself to read, but manages to read all the children's books in the library by the age of five. She is also quite gifted at mathematics. One would think parents of such a child would be quite proud of their daughter, but Matilda's parents could care less. They adore their son but treat Matilda like she an unwanted pest they have been forced to feed and shelter. They are never physically abusive but they take every opportunity to belittle the little girl. Matilda, however, is not easily intimidated or scared. She even finds ways to get her parents/tormentors back for their horrible behavior.
At age five-and-a-half Matilda heads off to school. Her teacher Miss Honey quickly spots her young student's genius. Like Matilda's parents, the school's headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is not at all impressed by the five-year-old who can figure out the answer to 14 x 19 in her head in two seconds. In fact, Miss Trunchbull hates small children. Though Matilda makes friends and allies at school, in many ways school is no better than home.
This sounds like a terrible story, right? Who would have their child to read a book in which adults - parents and school officials no less - are really, really mean to small children for no good reason? And yet, this is a brilliant story for kids. The children in Miss Trunchbull's school are terribly afraid, but they also fight back in small ways. Moreover, Matilda is a spirited little girl whose spirit never falters in the face of the ill treatment she receives. In fact, it only serves to make her stronger and braver than ever. She is small child who uses her intelligence (and special powers) to fight back, and in the end she saves the day. I loved this book and think I'll find myself visiting the children's section of the bookstore for more of Roald Dahl's books.
Another great thing about Matilda is that it satisfies all four of my 2014 reading challenges:
- The title is a person's name, which is one of the categories in the What's in a Name Challenge?;
- It is a children's book, which is one of the genres in the Literary Explorations challenge;
- My to-be-read pile is now one book shorter, helping me with the Mount TBR challenge;
- And of course, it counts toward my overall Goodreads goal to read 65 books in 2014;