Hello, all! Happy Friday! First up, the winner of The Eternal Ones by Kiersten White is…Lisa B. Â Congratulations! Please contact us with your mailing information so we can send you your snazzy new ARC and bonus swag!
And now for something completely different! This is the first of a series we’re going to post every Friday called ‘Flashback Friday’, where one, or several, of us go on and on and on about our love for a book/series/author that we read when we were just yay high (i.e., during our elementary, junior high or high school years). And I’m the lucky one who gets to go first! So, without further ado…
Matilda by Roald Dahl
What do you say about the work of a man who changed the way you see the world?
Imagine the following, if you will. A cute-ish, shy girl of the tender age of eight, who finds solace in stories and has since she began reading at four years old, runs through the titles of the now familiar books in her school’s library. But nothing sparks an interest. So she asks the friendly school librarian, Mrs. Collins, who just recently bonded with the girl over The Borrowers, what she should try next. Mrs. Collins considers the question and then asks, “Have you tried Roald Dahl?”
‘Roald Dahl,’ the girl muses. ‘What a strange name…’
And thus began my fascination, and later, adoration of Roald Dahl. Among his varied and wonderful stories is one very near and dear to my heart and that is Matilda.
If you’ve read Matilda, you’ll recognize the scene I described above from a similar one that occurs in the first chapter. Of course, I was no where near the same reading level as Matilda, but it was enough coincidence for me that I instantly connected to her as both a person and lover of books and fell in love with her story.
If you’ve never read Matilda, first of all, how’s the rock you’re living under? Comfortable? Second, I’m including the summary just for you (and anyone who needs a refresher).
Matilda is an exceptionally bright young girl with an insatiable appetite for books and reading. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, think she’s just a nuisance. Matilda thinks, rightly, that all they are interested in is watching TV and making money by cheating people. So, she decides to punish them. She soon discovers that she has supernatural powers which are not only going to prove useful at home, but also at Cruchem Hall School, where Matilda and her classmates must contend with the scariest headmistress of them all – Miss Trunchbull.
When remembering this lovely story, the first thing I think of is the names that Roald gave everything. They fit so perfectly. There’s Miss Honey, the nicest kindergarten teacher anyone could ever have; Miss Trunchbull, the woman who gives small children daytime nightmares; Crunchem Hall, which is designed to suck all the joy out of children (think Azkaban from Harry Potter); and The Wormwoods, who are some of the nastiest people and should never have been allowed to reproduce. I wish places and people were so perfectly named in real life. (I would probably have some hippy name, like Moon or Sky, since I tend to have my head in the clouds.)
Through Matilda, I learned several things that I still believe today.
- Children should never be dismissed outright just because they are children.
- The idea of justice, which you can take into your own hands if no one else is doing anything about it.
- There is magic in the world.
These themes are found in other Roald Dahl books, so they were reinforced with every re-reading of my favorites (Matilda, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches).
Of those favorites, Matilda is the one I always go back to, though. It never gets old. Her exploits with her family and Miss Trunchbull, the relationships that she develops with Miss Honey and her classmates, and above all, her love for reading, they all pull me in, every time.
If you haven’t read this book (or any of Roald Dahl’s books) in a while, do yourself a favor and rediscover a great author.
And it’s no coincidence that this flashback is posted right before September because September 1st starts Roald Dahl Month. There’s a downloadable calendar with suggestions you and your children (or just you, if there are no children yet) can follow. September 1st is also the start of the Dahlathon Reading Challenge, which is open to children age 7-13 who live in the US. You can read all about the Challenge and get the calendar at Roald Dahl’s website.