Matilda by Roald Dahl

75%

14 Critic Reviews

I like the book Matilda because it is by one of my favourite authors, Roald Dahl. It is funny like all Roald Dahl books. It's about a girl called Matilda who has a very horrible family and goes to a school run by a very horrible person. But she survives it
-Guardian

Synopsis

Now on Broadway!

Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she's just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a menacing, kid-hating headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It'll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

Here is Roald Dahl's original novel of a little girl with extraordinary powers. This much-loved story has recently been made into a wonderful new musical, adapted by Dennis Kelly with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Roald Dahl

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CHILDHOOD Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales on September 13th 1916. His parents were Norwegian and he was the only son of a second marriage. His father, Harald, and elder sister Astri died when Roald was just three. His mother, Sofie, was left to raise two stepchildren and her own four children (Alfhild, Roald, Else and Asta). Roald was her only son. He remembered his mother as "a rock, a real rock, always on your side whatever you'd done. It gave me the most tremendous feeling of security". Roald based the character of the grandmother in The Witches on his mother - it was his tribute to her. The young Roald loved stories and books. His mother told Roald and his sisters tales about trolls and other mythical Norwegian creatures. "She was a great teller of tales," Roald said, "Her memory was prodigious and nothing that ever happened to her in her life was forgotten." As an older child, Roald enjoyed adventure stories - "Captain Marryat was one of my favourites" - before going on to read Dickens and Thackeray as well as short-story writer Ambrose Bierce. His father Harald was, as Roald recalled in Boy, a tremendous diary-writer. "I still have one of his many notebooks from the Great War of 1914-18. Every single day during those five war years he would write several pages of comment and observation about the events of the time." Roald himself kept a secret diary from the age of eight. "To make sure that none of my sisters got hold of it and read it, I used to put it in a waterproof tin box tied to a branch at the very top of an enormous conker tree in our garden. I knew they couldn't climb up there. Then every day I would go up myself and get it out and sit in the tree and make the entries for the day." Roald's parents seem to have instilled in him a number of character traits. In Boy, he talks of his father's interest in "lovely paintings and fine furniture" as well as gardening. In spite of only having one arm, he was also a fine woodcarver. Paintings, furniture and gardening would all be passions of the adult Roald Dahl. Similarly, remembering his mother, in Roald Dahl's Cookbook, he recalls "she had a crystal-clear intellect and a deep interest in almost everything under the sun, from horticulture to cooking to wine to literature to paintings to furniture to birds and dogs and other animals." Roald might very well have been describing his adult self. SCHOOL Roald had an unhappy time at school. From the age of seven to nine, he attended Llandaff Cathedral School. His chief memories of this time, as described in Boy, are of trips to the sweet shop. The seeds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were already being sown as young Roald and his four friends lingered outside the shop window, gazing in at the big glass jars of sweets and pondering such questions as how Gobstoppers change colour and whether rats might be turned into liquorice. Sherbert suckers were one of Roald's favourites - "Each Sucker consisted of a yellow cardboard tube filled with sherbert powder, and there was a hollow liquorice straw sticking out of it... You sucked the sherbert up through the straw and when it was finished you ate the liqourice... The sherbet fizzed in your mouth, and if you knew how to do it, you could make white froth come out of your nostrils and pretend you were throwing a fit." Boarding at St. Peter's prep school in Weston-Super-Mare, from 1925-9, proved less of a sweet experience for Roald. He was just nine years old when he arrived at St. Peters and had to contend with the twitching Latin Master Captain Hardcastle, the all-powerful Matron - a dead ringer for Miss Trunchball, who "disliked small boys very much indeed" and the cane-wielding Headmaster. Not surprisingly, Roald suffered from acute homesickness. At St. Peter's, Roald got into the habit of writing to his mother once a week. He continued to do so until her death 32 years later. Later, when his own children went to boarding school, Roald wrote to them twice a week to brighten up the drudgery of their school days. Roald was thirteen when he started at Repton, a famous public school in Derbyshire. He excelled at sports, particularly heavyweight boxing and squash, but was deemed by his English master to be "quite incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper". Whatever else he was forced to endure, there was one huge advantage to going to Repton. The school was close to Cadbury's, one of England's most famous chocolate factories and one which regularly involved the schoolboys in testing new varieties of chocolate bars. Dahl's unhappy time at school was to greatly influence his writing. He once said that what distinguished him from most other children's writers was "this business of remembering what it was like to be young." Roald's childhood and schooldays are the subject of his autobiography Boy. WAR & ADVENTURE At 18, rather than going to university, Roald joined the Public Schools Exploring Society's expedition to Newfoundland. He then started work for Shell as a salesman in Dar es Salaam. He was 23 when war broke out and signed up with the Royal Air Force in Nairobi. At first, the station doctor balked at his height (6ft 6in or 2 metres) but he was accepted as a pilot officer and was trained on the birdplane Gladiator fighters, mainly in Iraq. He then flew to join his squadron in the Western Desert of Libya but crashed en-route. Dahl's exploits in the war are detailed in his autobiography Going Solo. They include having a luger pointed at his head by the leader of a German convoy, crashlanding in no-man's land (and sustaining injuries that entailed having his nose pulled out and shaped!) and even surviving a direct hit during the Battle of Athens, when he was sufficiently recovered to fly again - this time in Hurricanes. Eventually, he was sent home as an invalid but transferred, in 1942, to Washington as an air attaché. It was there that he would meet an important writer who would set him on the path to a new career. THE FIRST CHAPTER: ROALD BEGINS TO WRITE In 1942, during his time in Washington, C S Forester, author of Captain Hornblower, took Roald to lunch. Forester was in America to publicise the British war effort and hoped Roald would describe his version of the war, which Forester would write up for the Saturday Evening Post. Roald chose to write down his experiences. Ten days after receiving the account, Forester wrote back "Did you know you were a writer? I haven't changed a word." He enclosed a cheque for $900 from the Post. The piece appeared anonymously in August 1942 under the title "Shot Down Over Libya". Roald's career as a writer was underway. Roald Dahl's first book for children was not, as many suppose, James and the Giant Peach but The Gremlins, a picture book published in 1943 and adapted from a script written for Disney. Walt Disney had invited the 25 year-old Roald to Hollywood, given him the use of a car and put him up at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The story of The Gremlins focused on the mischievous spirits that, according to RAF legend, cause aircraft-engine failures. In the end, the project to make a movie version was abandoned but the book was published. Roald was never very keen on The Gremlins and didn't really think of it as a children's book. Nevertheless, it caught Eleanor Roosevelt's eye and Roald became a not infrequent guest at th
 
Published August 16, 2007 by Puffin Books. 240 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Sports & Outdoors. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Matilda
All: 14 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by SuperCellaBella on Apr 08 2012

I like the book Matilda because it is by one of my favourite authors, Roald Dahl. It is funny like all Roald Dahl books. It's about a girl called Matilda who has a very horrible family and goes to a school run by a very horrible person. But she survives it

Read Full Review of Matilda | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Purple Unicorns on Mar 25 2012

If you have seen the DVD then you get a better understanding of the book.

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Slate

Good
Reviewed by Chelsey Philpot on Apr 05 2013

In Matilda’s craftiness and magical talents, I (and countless other indoor kids) found the promise that someday my reading, my easy friendships with adults, and my natural inclination toward solitude would all pay off.

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Crikey

Above average
Reviewed by Bethanie Blanchard on Jan 14 2012

But Dahl’s fantastical stories are written for an age when you truly believe that these things might be possible. I’m no longer small like Matilda, and, being an adult, would probably be considered on the side of the enemy; but though they may no longer be entirely comforting, I’m thankful to these stories for reminding me of those days of magical

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Booking Mama

Good
Reviewed by bookingmama on May 25 2013

It's a great story with a wonderful main character, and it's entertaining enough to keep the attention of even the most reluctant readers. The story is beyond silly and it even has a bit of the supernatural, but it also has some terrific messages. And the ending is absolutely perfect!

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Parental Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Amy on Jan 28 2014

I like the book because Matilda is like an ordinary little girl until she finds out that she can read and write better than other children and that she is magic. I like the way things turned out because Miss Honey gets her old house back and Matilda can live with Miss Honey who is much nicer to her.

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Sarah Says Read

Good
Reviewed by Sarah on Aug 17 2013

The book is short, cute, and it makes me so so happy to see so much book love in a kid’s book. If my nephew hasn’t read this yet, he totally should. And my niece, when she’s a bit older. Is it a bit unbelievable, as a grown-up? Of course. But it’s still a fun ride.

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Diary of an Eccentric

Above average
Reviewed by Anna on Sep 27 2007

But we liked how the book tells you which books Matilda took out of the library, giving The Girl some ideas for future reading. Also, scenes not included in the movie (i.e. the “ghost” parrot) kept her interested when she knew how the story was going to end.

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Kids Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Tania McCartney on Mar 19 2010

Within the familiar schoolground setting, Roald Dahl takes his readers into the world of one little girl enduring cruelty, lonelines...This story is beautifully heartwarming; a surprising mix of humour, adventure and mystery. And, as with any Dahl story, Matilda provides a strong message to children: you can do it.

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The Friendly Book Nook

Above average
Reviewed by Emily on Mar 17 2009

My daughter Emily (age – nearly eight) shares her thoughts on Dahl’s book Matilda...When Matilda goes to school, she finds out it is almost worse than being at home...I liked the ending and the characters. I like Matilda because she likes to read just like me!

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Quinn's Book Nook

Excellent
Reviewed by quinnsbooknook on Mar 25 2013

I absolutely adore that Matilda, this tiny five-year-old girl ends up saving not only the kids but the grown-ups too...Seriously, if you haven’t read Matilda yet, don’t waste another minute. Run out and get yourself a copy. I’m pretty sure every library has it.

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Bunbury in the Stacks

Good
Reviewed by Heidi on Apr 20 2014

While I’ve never met a Roald Dahl book I didn’t like, Matilda shall forever remain my favorite. Something about a precocious yet obliviously modest young girl always catches me, but with Matilda in particular I think I love her sense of justice.

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Books 4 Teens

Good
Reviewed by Jesse Owen on Oct 31 2013

And I immediately fell back in love with the story, told in the delicious way that Roald Dahl does I couldn’t help but move onto the next chapter to rediscover this tale of a girl who at the tender age of 3 teaches herself to read...Overall it was lovely to re-enter the world of Matilda...

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FernFolio

Good
Reviewed by fernfolio on Apr 03 2007

This is a heart-warming novel of a girl who is made of genius material but, sadly, her parents don’t acknowledge it...Luckily, Matilda has a super-hero sidekick, Ms. Honey ...Together will they win gold? Or will Ms. Trunchbull, the principal, remain defending champ? To find out you just gotta read it!

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Reader Rating for Matilda
91%

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Neha 15 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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