Published by Puffin
Published on 6 March 2003
Genres: 20th Century, Fantasy
Source: my local library
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Matilda is a brilliant and sensitive child, but her parents think of her only as a nuisance. Even before she is five years old, she has read Dickens and Hemingway and still her parents think of her as a pest. So she decides to get back at them. Her platinum-haired mother and car salesman father are no match for her sharp genius, and neither is the cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull. And then she child prodigy discovers she has an extraordinary psychic power that can save her school and especially the lovely kindergarten teacher, Miss Honey.
It feels right that my last review for the year is about a little girl whose superpower was reading.
Recently I had a social gathering at my house that contained small children. I wanted a child-friendly film to play in the background, so I chose Matilda from Netflix. It was supposed to be a low-key party (because I would never do high-key lol) but all the adults got sucked into watching the film as well.
It inspired me to listen to the musical (again), which, if you didn’t know, is an absolute masterpiece written by comedy and musical legend Tim Minchin, that then finally inspired me to read the book. I haven’t seen the stage show (live) but I have watched many, many Matilda videos on Youtube, and I think it’s safe to say it’s one of my favourite musicals ever which never happens with musical starring children for me because I kind of low-key hate them (Olive, Annie, The Sound of Music – bleargh!).
The book was yet another way for me to enjoy this timeless tale of a small girl with a large brain tapping into incredible psychic powers to overcome a notorious child-abusing headmistress.
Of course the language was relatively simply and the villains are all absolutely horrible caricatures, including Matilda’s mother who seems to think she’s won at life because she’s married with a nice house and there’s no need to be smart or curious at all, even though her husband is a notorious criminal, and who will eventually have to leave it all behind.
This of course contrasts with Miss Honey, Matilda’s gentle, sweet, caring teacher, who treats Matilda like a grown-up, who suffered horrific abuse from her guardian all through childhood and even into her adulthood, but managed to survive by the strength of her character and her love of learning.
This book is for everyone who ever felt like they didn’t belong. It’s for people who wish they had the courage to stand up when something’s not right. It’s for the sheer love of the British (yes the film was American but it’s still at its heart British). It’s for the young, it’s for the old, and it’s for the in-between. This little girl is inspiring and wonderful and not at all bratty, and despite her youth and wisdom beyond her years, she’s an excellent role model.