Matilda by Roald Dahl || Book Review

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Synopsis: 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 kid-hating terror of a 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!

Source: Goodreads

Title: Matilda
Author: Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator)
Links: Amazon CA | Book Depository | Goodreads

Age Group & Genre(s): Children’s Literature, Classic Literature, Comedy, Humour
Point of View: Third Person Omniscient

Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: 2016 (First published 1988)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 233

As a child, the film adaptation of Matilda (1996) was my all-time favourite — and to be honest, it’s remains to be today. It’s one of those magical movies that make you see the beauty in the world and the people who inhabit it, which is always a lovely refresher. As part of The Book Junkie Trials, I decided to re-read Dahl’s classic children’s novel since I barely remembered the book version. Overall, this was a lovely experience and perfect choice to kick off this epic hunt for the Bookie Grail challenge!

CONTENT & TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, child abuse, child neglect, absent parent), bullying and loss of a loved one (mentioned).

To all the book lovers out in the world, this is a novel for you! Not only is the main character a bookworm, but there’s a HUGE emphasis throughout the story about the importance and beauty of literature. From knowledge seeking to emotional comfort, Dahl remarks on the multiple joys and benefits of being a reader. What I found TRULY profound in the novel is the comments that Matilda makes about reading and literature that I believe ALL readers have experienced as some point, making her love of literature feel more authentic.

Dahl’s Matilda addresses the importance of education and child empowerment. Access to education is such a privilege, when it should be a right. Matilda’s desire and urgency to go to school illustrates how we take for granted some things that seem universal yet aren’t. In addition, Dahl points out how age and size do NOT equate to intelligence … and that it’s our duty to help bring these intelligent beings up rather than drag them down. Miss Honey’s impeccable attention to caring for Matilda’s intellectual needs rather than dismissing them as the other adults do is an EXCELLENT example of how parents and educators alike should act and behave in the REAL WORLD.

The narrative style’s one of the most exceptional parts of this story, making it an easy read for children and adult’s alike. The third person narrative is exceptionally well done. It makes you feel as though you’re sitting in the library for story time rather than actually physically reading the book yourself. It’s very PERSONABLE and COMPELLING, drawing readers in more. This narration style also helps draw out more humour, especially with the narrator’s witty comments about characters in the novel.

For such an older children’s book, I was BLOWN away by the number of real issues Dahl tackles. Bullying, child neglect, multiple forms of abuse, illegal work … Dahl unveils a number of serious topics in this adorable children’s classic, highlighting the importance of fighting against these things that unfortunately occur in real life. Though some things are dramatized, this element makes the book more child friendly rather than a scary book about awful teachers and even worse parents. Using the dramatics and playful nature, Dahl makes this a FUN read for all ages while educating readers on very REAL issues.

For parents and educators, be prepared to explain a number of words and phrases. Throughout the story, there were a number of words that I had Google in order to know the meaning. When reading children’s literature, one of the KEY things I look for is how easy will the child will comprehend the language and the story. There weren’t TOO many instances, but I think Dahl could’ve selected better word choices and phrases to keep the child interested and engaged.

Due to the amount of twists spontaneously appearing, the story felt rushed. The plot twists are one of the things that make Matilda a very compelling story … but they just kept popping up randomly! It’s as though Dahl just sporadically thought to add “this” and “that” without realizing he’s already more than halfway through the novel. These aren’t small twists either … they’re PLOT CHANGING TWISTS! In comparison to the nicely paced first half of the novel, the second half was a bunch of information overload crammed in yet not neatly resolved by the end of the story.

Honestly, I was NOT a fan of the “good” and “bad” character stereotypes. This is, unfortunately, a common element I find in older novels. The “good” characters (i.e. Miss Honey and Matilda) are delicate and lovely, with little to know physical “flaws” and more character development. The “bad” characters are obnoxious, have features that the narrator deems as “unsettling and unappealing” and have little character development. It may seem like a silly complaint, but early childhood education should try to RID of these stereotypes, especially since children learn “morals” and ways of viewing people and the world at an early age. If it was minor, it wouldn’t have bothered me. But it felt like an ACTUALLY dividing line between the “good” characters being described one way and the “bad” characters being described as another.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a splendid read, one that every book lover is sure to connect with. Though I’m more of a fan of the film adaptation, there’s something rather adorable and brilliant behind this sweet children’s novel.

I recommend this novel if you enjoy:

↠ Light and funny reads
↠ Importance of child empowerment and education
↠ Consequences for ill-mannered behaviour (karma)
↠ Plot oriented story
↠ Fast paced novels

Have you read Roald Dahl’s Matilda?


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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

28 thoughts on “Matilda by Roald Dahl || Book Review

  1. Such a great review – I really admire the way you organize and discuss your thoughts.

    I don’t believe I have read Matilda…yet. 😜 Like you, I was/am in love with the 1996 film; the sweetness of it, the scariness, the hopeful themes, the magic – it’s a great roller coaster ride of emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel the same about “good” and “bad” characters, I get what you mean, and I think as well that nobody is 100% good or 100% bad, is not something real, I like when the characters have more shades than that and they’re deeper and complex. But I suppose that being a book a little old, the way in which it is built is kind of justified, in that time it must have been this the most “normal” way to tell the story.🤷🏻‍♀️

    I love the movie A LOT, so adorable, I saw it like a thousand times 😄

    I LOVE the way you order and build your review, honey 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah … it’s unfortunate. And it’s beyond the 100% good and 100% bad. I hate how bad characters are physically described as “bad” or “ugly” all the time.

      It’s such a great movie!! I think I’m going to watch it this weekend 😍

      And thank you so much!! I really appreciate that, love! I’m trying to make them a tad smaller yet still detailed ha-ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE this review of Matilda – it was one of my fave books growing up, but I’m interested to read it again as an adult and see how I feel about it. The lovely, beautiful ‘good’ characters and the ugly witch-like ‘bad’ characters is unfortunately a recurring theme in Roald Dahl’s writing and in many books around that time, but hopefully that’s a trope we can break away from!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! Honestly, I’m so happy people have been commenting on my reviews. I’m changing it slightly and slowly, so I get curious if the information is still helpful and useful 🙂

      I know it’s really picky of me, but I just REALLY don’t like that trope ha-ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one that sees it and hopes to break from it though!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really love the clear, succinct way you do your reviews – it gives a really balanced opinion of the book! Hahaha I don’t think it’s picky at all – it’s an outdated trope & definitely should be pointed out!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never really considered the physical attributes of good Vs bad before, although after you mentioned it I have started to realize the trend is very inherent in a lot of younger fiction!! Heros are either unassuming or handsome, rarely outright ‘ugly’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately it’s common. And it’s not that slight figures automatically equal “pretty” or something, but the authors actually use the words “horrid” and “grotesque”. It’s annoying. I think that’s why i love authors like Pullman. Two of the main villains are absolutely stunning but still wicked. And I also just don’t like when authors say “grotesquely large” … since not being lean doesn’t mean you’re hideous.

      I know it’s SO picky of me, but I think it’s just a trope that really needs to stop. Our society has these awful depictions of looks and it places so much pressure on people as it is, yea know? Anyway, it was just something I was shocked to see in a children’s novel ha-ha!

      Like

      1. I don’t think it’s picky at all! Once something like this bothers you, it’s hard to shift… And guess it begins early 🤔 children do seem to be more sensitive to aesthetic beauty when it comes to strangers

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Matilda was my favourite book when I was a kid. I think because I was so young when I read it the stereotypes were endearing. I can see why I wouldn’t like them now though.

    Great review xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t stop saying this – I think your reviews are amazing! The content but also the formatting style, I just want to stare at the text for hours!
    I think I’ll be reading this during the Reading Rush read-a-thon (I’m working on my TBR for it atm 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I’m so happy people are enjoying them! I’ve been trying to refine them slowly, just shortening them a tad but still providing enough detail. I used to try and cover SO MUCH content, when I really don’t need to ha-ha!

      Oh yay!! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review! ❤ I love your points and agree wholeheartedly.
    I remember we read it at elementary school, and we watched the movie at some point.

    In hindsight, it's such a heavy book for children regarding the dark themes present.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! As a child, I didn’t notice it the way I do today as an adult. He makes light of it, without triviliazing it!

        Liked by 1 person

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