Roald Dahl

1988, Puffin Books


The story of Matilda is completed with illustrations by Quentin Blake (which I liked even better than the story itself). It was first published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape and it was the winner of the "Children's Book Award". The book is processed in three different ways: The book, the cassette and the video. It is no special type of book; it is a mixture between fiction, adventure, mystery, thriller and more. But, in my opinion, it's a real children's book.


Matilda is a sensitive, brilliant and exceptional girl, but Mr and Mrs Wormwood treat her like a scab, not a daughter. They think she is a nuisance and a noisy chatterbox.

By the age of one and a half years Matilda's speech is already perfect and she knows as many words as most adults. By the time she is three years old she has taught herself to read by studying newspapers and magazines that are lying around the house. And after one more year Matilda is able to read fast and well and she naturally begins hankering after books.

One afternoon when her father had refused to buy her a book, Matilda sets out all by herself to walk to the public library in the village. It doesn't take her very long to read all the books in the children's section and over the next six months Mrs Phels, the librarian, introduces her to many books for grown ups written by famous authors.

Matilda's family is addicted to watching TV. (To watching the "telly" as it is put in the book.) The protagonist of the story can't stand that and so she starts to play nasty tricks on them.

Matilda is five and a half years old when she enters school for the first time. Mrs Honey, her teacher, is very friendly and patient. She soon notices that her pupil is someone special and she is very surprised when she finds out that the young girl is perfect in reading, arithmetics and more subjects. But she can't believe that Matilda learns all these things by herself, without the help of an adult.

But there are some angry and disliking people in her school too. And one day something very strange happens to Matilda: When she is attacked by her odious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, something crazy happens to her body. There is something like electricity  all around her. Suddenly she discovers that she has a remarkable power to avenge herself with. So when she finds out that Mrs Trunchbull does a lot of dreadful things to her favourite teacher Miss Honey, she decides to help her by her forces. Finally, after she has prepared her project very carefully, her plan works. The next morning Miss Trunchbull doesn't turn up at school and all her personal items are missing. The headmistress inexplicable vanishes. On the second morning Miss Honey receives a letter from a firm of solicitors informing her that the last will (testament) of her father has a mysteriouly turned up and that she is the rightful owner of a very big house, so to say a villa. And her father's lifetime savings have been left to her too! Soon there is a new headmaster instead of Mrs Trunchbull and Matilda is moved into the top form.

A few weeks later Matilda completely loses her power. Surprisingly Matilda is glad about that because as she says: "I do not want to go through life as a mystical worker." On the same day her family is preparing to go to Spain, because her father is in with a bunch of crooks. He sees just one way out of this situation: to go to another country where the police can't catch him. But Matilda doesn't want to go with them. She wants to stay with her teacher. Her parents agree with this proposal (!!!) , drive away and do not even look back. They drive around the corner and disappear forever. Miss Honey and Matilda are content and live happily in their big house. All's well that ends well

And they lived happily ever after..


Matilda struggles through her busy life with her crazy family. She discovers her magic power and learns to cope with it and to use it. She fights against the horrible headmistress Mrs Trunchbull to do her favourite teacher Miss Honey a favour. Well, all in all her life is a big adventure and an endless fight against the "silly members of her life".

Matilda is a very intelligent, nice girl who loves books even more than her own life and so she is the black sheep of her telly-addicted family so to say. She doesn't fit into that so called "family picture" at all.


Again I am in two minds about a book. On the one hand I didn't like the story because it was too childish and so I was bored to death. But I have to pay a great compliment to the author of the story, Roald Dahl. The way he formulates the sentences really appeals to young readers. I liked its being written in a very easy language without any word I had to look up in the dictionary. But perhaps I didn't like it for that particular reason. It wasn't so much of a challenge and so I couldn't improve my knowledge a lot. And that is the aim of reading a book in a foreign language, especially at school, isn't it?!

(Teacher's comment: Not necessarily. Sometimes the pleasure lies in enjoying what you already know, what you are able to do. The best thing is to alternate easy reading with more demanding pieces of literature. Children's books for instance enable you to look into children's minds.)

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