MatildaThis is my third book by Roald Dahi (1916-1990). I did not plan to read this because I’ve already read his more famous (earlier) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) and his boyhood memoir, Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984) which are both included in the 501 Must Read Books that I am trying to read completely. However, the Filipinos group here in Goodreads selected this book as its bestseller read for this month, September 2011 so I had to buy and read this one too.
This book's main protagonist,This is my third book by Roald Dahi (1916-1990). I did not plan to read this because I’ve already read his more famous (earlier) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) and his boyhood memoir, Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984) which are both included in the 501 Must Read Books that I am trying to read completely. However, the Filipinos group here in Goodreads selected this book as its bestseller read for this month, September 2011 so I had to buy and read this one too.
This book's main protagonist, Matilda is a precocious, smart and telekinetic 4-y/o book lover who puts super glue on the inside lining of his father’s hat so her mother has to cut the hat and the hair of the poor father so he can sleep properly. I am sure some women, for whatever strange reason, find this funny. However, for a father like me, it is definitely not. No one, fathers included, is perfect. Even if Matilda’s father is mean, obnoxious, shouts at Matilda or does not agree to buy her books and asks her to watch the television instead, he is the one putting food on the dining table. Matilda has to respect his parents. This also includes his mother who, even if she is insensitive, who leaves Matilda all by herself at home every afternoon to play bingo, at least, does not physically hurt or starve her to death. Hence, Matilda has no right to disrespect her parents including scaring them by hiding a parrot up in the chimney, even if the parrot is as lovable as the
one in the book. I know that this book is intended for children and most of my GR friends say that they read and liked when they were young (this came out in 1988) so my griping or nitpicking is totally misplaced as I am now an old dog. But hey, I will not tell my teen daughter or my very young nieces to read this as I don't see Matilda as a good girl role model for them. Try Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or even maybe Pippi Longstocking but definitely not Matilda.
The other reason why I find this book inferior Dahl's other works like Charlie and Boy is the one-dimensional character of the antagonist, headmistress Miss Trunchbull. Why did she become nasty? I understand that the headmistress is not the highest official of a British school, so what do the other school authorities are saying about Miss Trunchbull’s behavior towards the students? Granting that Miss Honey is afraid of her, considering that the other children are not afraid to talk, are they not saying anything to their parents who in turn can get in touch with the other school authorities or even the police?
However, I cannot fully dislike this novel. Any booklover main character is hard for me not to love. Dahl’s children’s books are mostly based on actual people and experiences that he met or had when he was a young boy as his memoir Boy: Tales of Childhood stated. As examples, Miss Trunchbull’s character is said to be based on an actual nasty teacher he had in British school or the conteest entries to the chocolate factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were based on real life chocolate recipe contests used to sponsored by Cadbury during his childhood years in England. Also, the relationship of Matilda and Miss Honey should have been inspired by the homesickness that Dahl experienced at British school while he was away from his mom. Aww, sweet boy.
This book is not really bad. I only thought that Charlie and Boy better written, more truthful and more inspiring.