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Review – “Matilda” By Roald Dahl

“What’s wrong with the telly, for heaven’s sake?” 

For the longest time, I had this urge to read the works of Roald Dahl. But given the childish nature of his books, I kept away and engaged myself in what one would call more age-appropriate books. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to give in to my inner child and laid my hands on Matilda, a classic children’s story though I read it as an adult now because frankly, I don’t seem to remember him as a child. 

Geniuses are seldom born, and rarer are the cases where they are recognized in their childhood. One such child was Matilda. An extraordinary child born to ordinary parents, Matilda was never treated well. In fact, the way her parents, Mrs. And Mr. Wormwood behaved with her made one feel that she wasn’t their own blood. That wasn’t the case with her brother Michael. He was pampered, half the reason behind it was that he was a “He” and the other half, was Matilda’s fault. You see, she was an exceptional child and as unlike her family as one could be. She liked to read and despised the television she was forced to watch during dinner, which according to her parents was an insult to them. They were so pissed at her for being their child, they didn’t even think about putting her into a school until someone pointed out. Once in school, Matilda thought she finally had something to look forward to, and her teacher Ms. Honey was a sweetheart to her, but the headmistress Mrs. Trunchbull was no less than a monster. So, Matilda, as grown as an adult and yet a child, took matters into her own hands; to find a way for herself to read, to find a way to teach her father a lesson for all the insults he threw her way, to find a way to help poor Ms. Honey escape the clutches of the horrendous Mrs. Trunchbull and last, but not the least, to find a way to escape from her horrible parents.

Although I had watched the movie adaptation of Matilda years ago and more recently when I came across it on a streaming platform, it didn’t stop me from it being my first ever Roald Dahl. I had thought it would be safe if I gave the book a shot because having watched the movie already, I knew what was going to happen (and it is so unlike me!) With so many options to choose from, Matilda seemed likable. Now that I’ve been introduced to the Dahl world, I know it’ll be a long beautiful journey.

Written in the third person, the writing was lucid and flowed smoothly. The seamless transition of the years was great, I hate pauses and detached chapters. Despite the story length being not too long, I finished it off in a day in multiple sittings, the characterization was splendid. Each of the characters was presented so expertly that there was no room for assumptions. The only character that didn’t find much scope and space was the brother Michael, whom I thought should have had an episode with Matilda. It would have been lovely to see the sibling comradery or the lack of it. LOL. The illustrations, however, or whatever those scribblings of a doodle were, did no justice to the lovely characters and their antics. Such a descriptive book and such unimaginative pictures! I have never been more disappointed.

The primary characters of the story, Matilda and Mrs. Trunchbull, make up for an interesting feuding pair, the former being an easily infuriated girl and the latter, an obnoxious kid-hating woman. It was fun to see their banter, or rather see the woman reprimanding the kids nastily and the girl giving out justice by counter reprimanding the woman in her own funnily innocent ways. The imagination of the author, ah, it was a breath of fresh air from the past. Ms. Honey, for me, was the strongest person in the story. Her acceptance and knowing the importance of mental health, that peace is more important than revenge, made her stand out in front of the other characters.

A humorous story with a beautiful message, Matilda is a must-read for you and your child. And yes, a message to all the grown-ups, treat the children well, they are much more accomplished and not helpless at all.

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