One thing I love about Roald Dahl is that he writes fun, easy books, but uses fantastic vocabulary. It’s just the right amount of challenge for young kids, especially those who want to learn some new and fancy words.
Matilda is exactly that young child, a young gifted girl whose parents don’t care one whit (in fact, today we’d call them abusive, so if you’re sensitive to that, consider this your trigger warning). After teaching herself to read and devouring tons of library books, Matilda finally finds herself in school way above all her fellow 5 and a half year olds. But the frightening headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, refuses to let Matilda move beyond her age group.
Desperate for a challenge and wanting to help her teacher, Miss Honey, Matilda uses her cleverness to concoct a plan to rid the school of the wretched Trunchbull and give Miss Honey the good things she deserves.
As I said, this is a fun book and easy to read, but does deal with some difficult moments of verbal abuse (and physical, I suppose, through the Trunchbull’s outrageous behaviors). Matilda is a smart, if sassy, child, and I suppose I can see now why my mother didn’t want that rubbing off on me as a kid.
Dahl’s characters all celebrate kindness (even Matilda, despite her mischief) and correcting wrongs. Those who are mean get their due, and the good guys win in the end. Sometimes it’s nice to read stories adhering to that simple guideline. And if that allows for some mischief committed in the name of the greater and common good, so much the better!
Matilda is a great book for all ages, though you may need to set some boundaries if you’re littles are inclined to mischief and sass.