Somehow I missed Matilda during my childhood- maybe because I’d already skipped ahead to bigger books, or maybe because I was obsessed with The Wind in the Willows. My interest was actually sparked when I read an interview with Michelle Williams, whom I admire beyond belief, who said that she and Heath Ledger named their daughter after this character. As Michelle Williams is known for being a big fan of children’s lit, I thought this was significant praise. And that’s how I came to pick up the book.
Matilda is a charming character- smart beyond her years, but still liked by all the kids in her class, which is quite a feat, and the book itself is charming. The pranks she plays to get attention from her neglectful parents aren’t cruel, which is actually a really nice change from all of the kids movies out there in which someone gets hit with a brick. The English undertones were fun for me but not so much so they’d be confusing for a child, and hey, every child wants to briefly have magical powers, so that’s a win too.
Roald Dahl is a fascinating person, and his light tone is impressive given the various tragedies in his life. Matilda’s definitely a winner, and I can see why someone would name their child after this character.