When looking for which authors have a birthday to fit the bingo requirements, I discovered that Roald Dahl’s birthday is September 13th. I’ve previously read a few other books by Dahl but had never read Matilda, so this seemed like a good time. When first published in 1988, I would have been eight years old and it would have been perfect for me to discover in about another two years. However, it escaped notice and when the movie came out in 1996, I was entering my senior year of high school and and felt I was beyond a kids book. While it remained on my radar for years, I just never got around to it but now have thanks to CBR Bingo! Ten year old me would have adored this book and felt that Matilda was a kindred spirit in many ways. Adult me is charmed by the story and still feels that Matilda is a kindred spirit.
It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons… She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room…
Me too, Matilda. Me too. As a child I was never allowed the luxury of having hot drinks in my bedroom. Though I would much rather have my parents with their strict rules regarding food/beverage items in bedrooms than Matilda’s neglectful ones. The privilege of adulthood is the ability to take hot tea and or other warm beverages into my bedroom while enjoying a good book. Traveling around the world, through time and space, and into worlds that never were is what reading is all about.
I liked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ Matilda said. ‘I think Mr. C.S. Lewis is a very good writer. But he has one failing. There are no funny bits in his books.’ ‘You are right there,’ Miss Honey said. ‘There aren’t many funny bits in Mr. Tolkien either,’ Matilda said. ‘Do you think that all children’s books ought to have funny bits in them?’ Miss Honey asked. ‘I do,’ Matilda said. ‘Children are not so serious as grown-ups and they love to laugh.’
I too think Mr. C.S. Lewis a good writer, though at the first time of reading TLWW in middle school I didn’t notice a lack of humor. Tolkien could definitely used a bit of lightening up here and there. In general, I agree with her sentiment that things written for children should have funny bits. There is a time and a place for humor, and while not all stories are enhanced by it, a moment of levity here and there can go a long way to keeping a child engaged in reading a story.
When she lowered herself into the chair, there was a loud squelching noise similar to that made by a hippopotamus when lowering its foot into the mud on the banks of the Limpopo River. But you’re too small and stupid to have read the Just So Stories, aren’t you?’ ‘I’ve read them,’ Matilda said.
Me too! I loved reading the Just So Stories and would also listen to an audio book of them. When I came upon this section of the book, I recalled the narrator making noises of the hippo at the river. And so by a few words, I was transported back to a previous moment in time conjured up by a few words written down on paper.
What I like best about Matilda is how the first third of the book is almost like a love letter to the magic of reading. I love nothing more than being swept away by a good story and the desire to consume vast quantities of reading material. These are sentiments shared by Matilda and myself.
In following his own advice, Dahl includes many funny bits in his books. But there are also serious ones as well. The description of Miss Trunchbull is frightening, and the phrase “marched like a storm-trooper with long strides and arms aswinging” is particularly disturbing in our current political environment in the United States.
Thank goodness we don’t meet many people like her in the world, although they do exist and all of us are likely to come across at least one of them in a lifetime.
Then Dahl swings it back around to being funny to take away some of the sting of the reality in this statement.
If you ever do, you should behave as you would if you met an enraged rhinoceros out in the bush – climb up the nearest tree and stay there until it has gone away.
I thoroughly enjoyed Matilda and this reminds me that I should really read all of Dahl’s works. In the back of my book is a notice that 10% of all Roald Dahl income goes to charity partners of the Roald Dahl Charitable Trust. So if you buy one of his books through Cannonball Amazon you’ll be helping kick cancer’s ass and support wonderful charities. It’s a win, win!