Childhood Favourites: Matilda by Roald Dahl

matilda3Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents.

Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers.

But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that, even though she’s only small, she’s got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve…

First published: 1988


Matilda was one of my favourite books when I was a child – I read it over and over again and practically knew it by heart at some point, I’m sure. I always read it in Dutch, though, because, well, that’s my native language and I couldn’t read English (properly) until a couple of years after I stopped reading the book. About a year and a half ago, however, I started to feel the urge to reread Matilda, but reread it in English this time. For my birthday in 2014, my parents got me a beautiful edition of the book, and this summer I finally got around to reading it!

I was so excited to start reading it and I wasn’t disappointed at all. I still know this story so well, and rereading it therefore had this strange feeling of coming home. Nostalgia galore! And it was so much fun to read it in English this time! The translation is very good, but nothing beats reading a good story in its original language (especially if that language is English).

Like I said in my review of Kiss Kiss last month, Roald Dahl is one of my favourite storytellers. I don’t know how he does it, but his stories captivate me from beginning to end. Matilda starts out as such a simple story about this girl with awful parents who falls completely in love with books. The book thing alone is enough to count me in, but it gets even better when Miss Honey enters the scene. Miss Honey must be one of the most amazing characters I have ever read about. She’s just so sweet and caring, and her story is tragic but inspiring at the same time.

And then there’s the Trunchbull – the absolute perfect villain for a children’s book. She’s pure evil incarnate and she would scare the living daylights out of me if I was a student at that school of hers (how she was ever allowed to become a teacher is beyond me). I remember having a sense of triumph every time I read the chapter in which she is finally defeated. At 22, I still feel triumphant when reading how teeny tiny Matilda scares Trunchbull out of town. That’s the effect Dahl’s storytelling has.

The illustrations by Quentin Blake complement Dahl’s writing perfectly. The facial expressions in the drawings are so well done and on point, and I spent quite some time simply studying them before turning the page.

Matilda will always be special to me and I’ll probably be reading it until I’m old and wrinkly. It’s my favourite of Dahl’s children’s novels and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a good children’s book!

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8 thoughts on “Childhood Favourites: Matilda by Roald Dahl

  1. It’s also my favourite of Dahl’s novels, which is really saying something because his output is all wonderful. I think I once knew bits of it off by heart too and I’m pretty sure I wasted time at some point staring at pencils and willing them to move! 😉
    I completely agree with what you say about Quentin Blake. For me, Blake’s drawings are inextricably part of Dahl’s stories – I can’t think of one without the other. It’s something magical when an author and illustrator are a perfect match and it doesn’t happen that often. The only other instance of this I can think of this is Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler with The Gruffalo (and other books too).
    Great post! 🙂

    • Haha, I think many of us wasted time doing that after reading Matilda at some point or other 😉
      I completely agree with you about the drawings! They just work SO well together and the stories definitely wouldn’t be the same without them. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Monthly Recap – October | Books Baking and Blogging

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