Reading through the Top 100 Childrens Books (as compiled by Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production), I have come across many Roald Dahl books. Actually, besides J.K. Rowling, he is the author that makes the most appearances on this list. Instead of hearing me blabber on about how fabulous he is again, I want to give Bri a chance to share her love for Matilda. Be sure to check out her blog after reading this post. She is so sweet and has a tremendous passion for books.
I can’t pinpoint when I read Matilda for the first time. I probably pulled it from the shelves at my middle school library, looking for something beyond my usual reads of the Baby-Sitters Club and the illustrated classics. I do know I read it once then tried to read it again immediately after. I was always trying to do this; I hated to leave the world of a good book.
Matilda was a very good book.
I think the reason Matilda is my favorite Dahl books (and probably one of my favorite books of all time) is it was the first book I read as a child that spoke of the magic of reading and its power. Here was Matilda, shy and ignored, taking solace in books. I didn’t have negligent criminal parents or a magical power, but one thing I could share in common with Matilda was our love of reading. Reading takes us to magical words, just as the faded library posters used to tell us. It’s not just marketing kids, it’s fact. And as Elizabeth Bird points out, Matilda was our early Harry Potter. Who didn’t want a teacher as sweet as Ms. Honey or to have the upper hand when it came to a bully, especially if we could defeat them using magic?
I adore Dahl because he was always aware of his audience. He knew what kids want. At that age, I wanted books that were more than just drama over school spirit day or who won a spelling bee. Dahl never fell into that category. His books have a running theme of how children were much smarter than adults, and how they should never be ignored. Good vs. evil was much defined and good wins. His good characters, however small or significant seeming, were always empowered. Matilda was no exception. But with Dahl, every character – even those that were good – were allowed a bit of a wicked side, especially if it allowed them to win in the end. As a kid, I enjoyed that. I still do.
I’ve got to say I was surprised at how high Matilda placed on the Fuse # 8 Top 100 List , but I was happy to see its ranking. Matilda definitely deserves to be on the list, yet I’ve always assumed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach were more beloved by readers. It was great to find out that Matilda, the story of a girl with a love of books, still impacts readers young and old today. I think that’s a great feat, especially in our generation of technology, something Dahl himself would’ve loved.
by Roald Dahl
Originally published in 1988