Matilda Wormwood is a precocious five year old, a word wonder who is reading everything she can get her hands on at an early age. Her parents don’t appreciate any of this and see her as an annoyance. During her first days of school she is introduced to Miss Trunchbull, the awful headmistress at Crunchem Hall. Miss Trunchbull was a hammer thrower in her younger years and a terrifying figure to all the kids at school. She despises children and thinks nothing of launching them across the fields by their pigtails, or forcing one of them to eat an enormous cake as punishment for stealing. Then there’s the chokey, a punishment all wish to avoid. Matilda finds a sympathetic adult finally in the form of Miss Honey, her teacher who recognises Matilda’s intellect. Later, when she’s been pushed to her edge, Matilda discovers she has the ability to move objects with her mind, and uses her new found powers for payback.
Matilda was one of my favourite books as a child. One I read over and over. Probably because, as a quiet child who loved to read, I related to her a lot. Her powers would have come in very useful for me at times too, but alas I never did get them. My girls are now five and I thought I’d read it to them, after they enjoyed the musical earlier this year. But a couple of pages in they showed no interest and I carried on for myself. It’s…fine? Doesn’t quite hold the bloom it did for me as a child. I think I’m glad my girls weren’t that bothered. If they find it on their own when they’re older fair enough. Of course the story of the little girl overcoming the brutish headmistress is a winner, and it has that lovely (though abrupt) ending. But all the five year olds talk like they’re ten at least, not just Matilda. And should Miss Honey really be telling all her past traumas to this little kid who has troubles of her own? I dunno. It’s obviously very heightened, as Dahl is, and it’s probably fun to read if you’re younger. But given the Dahl revisionism at the moment (editing his works to make them more palatable) I think I might stick to finding newer books and writers and worlds to enjoy.