Matilda, by Roald Dahl

Oh, Matilda. This was my first-ever Dahl book, and in fact the only one I’d read until reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this January. Good thing I bought that boxed set, so I can catch up!

Anyway, I read this in fifth grade as part of the not-yet-awesome Project Plus gifted program in my elementary school, and it was pretty much the greatest thing we did all year, or at least the most memorable. What smart 11-year-old doesn’t wish for super powers beyond just being good at math and reading? Not me, that’s for sure. I tried for weeks to move pencils and whatnot off of desks before realizing that my life wasn’t quite crappy enough for making magic happen.

If you haven’t read Matilda, I highly recommend it — it’s the story of an incredibly precocious girl whose parents couldn’t care less about her, who ends up at a school with a terrible headmistress but a wonderful teacher who helps Matilda realize her potential, both in school and in a bit of magic.

Of course, if you have kids of your own you might want to keep this out of their hands for a while, because Matilda isn’t a little angel… she is very good at exacting revenge on those who make life difficult for her. At the very least, make sure that your peroxide and superglue are well hidden for several months after any nearby children read this book!

Recommendation: Excellent for precocious children, or former precocious children, or people who like to read about precocious children. Now precocious doesn’t look like a word anymore.

Rating: 10/10
(Flashback Challenge)

See also:
Book Nut

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

For all the reading I’ve ever done, the only Roald Dahl book I’ve read before this one is Matilda. Isn’t that weird? I’ve seen pretty much every related movie to Dahl’s books, but I have got to get on reading them proper!

So, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the 70’s movie version of which is one of my favorite Gene Wilder films. Oh, Gene Wilder. Anyway, if you’ve seen that movie, or the more recent one, even, you’ve pretty much read the book. Charlie Bucket, a poor, starving child (I guess that part’s not so much in the movie versions), hits it supremely lucky and finds one of five golden tickets that permit him entrance to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, a very secretive place. Charlie goes along with four other kids, all of whom are a little less than perfect: Augustus Gloop is a chocolate (and everything else) glutton, Veruca Salt is intensely greedy, Violet Beauregarde chews gum all day long for no apparent reason, and Mike Teavee, well, watches TV. One by one the children succumb to their faults and are removed from the factory (but live, I promise!), except for Charlie, who, as the last child standing, wins! Yay winning!

I was talking the book over with my husband last night after I finished and comparing it to my beloved Gene Wilder movie. The plot is entirely the same, of course, but there are some interesting differences in the story. The biggest difference is in how Charlie wins the crazy game that Wonka’s playing; in the movie he is removed from the running after not following directions in the factory, but then gives back a piece of candy and is deemed trustworthy in Wonka’s eyes, or something. In the book, however, Charlie is simply the last child standing and so wins — had he, in the book, gone after the fizzy lifting drinks (he does not), Mike Teavee could have been the winner. I think I like the movie ending better as a good story to tell your kids, but Roald Dahl does make a good case in the book for throwing out your television and installing bookcases, so that’s a good moral, too!

Now to read another Dahl book; what do you all suggest?

Rating: 8/10
(A to Z Challenge)

See also:
Maw Books Blog

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.