This month marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Matilda by Roald Dahl. I reread this book last week when I was in bed ill and thought this would be the perfect chance to explain why I think it is one of the greatest children’s books of all time.
When I was younger the character I connected with the most was Matilda Wormwood. I was a huge book fan and Roald Dahl was my favourite author. He had this remarkable ability to see the world from a child’s eyes and his books had a common theme of children winning over adults. In this case Matilda rebels against her parents by reading books rather than watching the TV like she is told. Not only that but she comes up with a number of schemes to get her own back on her father who treats her terribly. This includes swapping bleach for his hair tonic and applying superglue to his hat so he can’t remove it from his head. She also rebels against her horrible headteacher and makes a lifelong friend in the sweet Miss Honey.
Perhaps the most magical part of this book though is Matilda’s trips to the library and into the literary world.
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
This is something I’ve always been able to relate to and it explains the magical properties of books perfectly. Matilda is an excellent role model for all bookworm type children and can perhaps serve as an inspiration for those who are not so inclined to pick up a book.
The film of Matilda was one of my favourites as a child and I still love it now. It’s extremely faithful to the book but, as always, is nowhere near as good.
I’ve heard brilliant reviews of the musical and really want to go and see it! Here’s a clip I found and it looks truly amazing.
What are your favourite childhood books? Are there any characters you particularly related to?