Matilda Read online
For Michael and Lucy
Some reviews of Matilda
'Mischievous though she may be, there could hardly be a better heroine for today's children. Matilda is super-intelligent and, above all, a voracious reader!'
- The Times
'Matilda is the nation's favourite children's book, according to a poll of more than ten thousand people conducted by Waterstone's and BBC1's Bookworm
programme' - Sunday Times
'One of the most popular children's books ever' - Ottaker's Top Ten Favourite Children's Books survey
'Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake have made an important and lasting contribution to children's literature'
Other books by Roald Dahl
BOY: TALES OF CHILDHOOD
BOY and GOING SOLO
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR
THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF CHARLIE AND MR WILLY WONKA DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
For younger readers
THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE
FANTASTIC MR FOX
THE GIRAFFE AND THE PELLY AND ME
THE MAGIC FINGER
DIRTY BEASTS(with Quentin Blake)
THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE(with Quentin Blake)
THE GIRAFFE AND THE PELLY AND ME (with Quentin Blake)
THE MINPINS (with Patrick Benson)
REVOLTING RHYMES (with Quentin Blake)
THE BFG: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN (Adapted by David Wood)
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: A PLAY(Adapted by Richard George)
FANTASTIC MR FOX: A PLAY(Adapted by Sally Reid)
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH: A PLAY (Adapted by Richard George)
THE WITCHES: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN(Adapted by David Wood)
THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES
SKIN AND OTHER STORIES
THE VICAR OF NIBBLESWICKE
THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR AND SIX MORE
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Johnathan Cape Ltd 1988
Published in Puffin Books 1989
Published in Puffin Modern Classics 2003
Text copyright (c) Roald Dahl Nominee Ltd, 1988
Illustrations copyright (c) Quentin Blake, 1988
Introduction copyright (c) Julia Eccleshare, 2003
All rights reserved
The author and publisher are grateful to the Trustees of the Estate of Dylan Thomas for permission to quote lines from 'In Country Sleep', from The Poems by Dylan Thomas, published by J. M. Dent & Sons
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
by Julia Eccleshare
Puff in Modern Classics series editor
How strange to be a child who loves books and reading, but who is criticized for it by her parents; how unusual to find a pupil who can do maths perfectly, yet is accused of cheating by her father when she answers a question correctly. Such a child is Matilda.
Roald Dahl's Matilda is a story of enormous warmth, celebrating intelligence, good teaching and, above all, a love of reading. And all of it is conveyed with the hallmarks of Dahl's storytelling: larger than life characters, scenes of comic excess that are sometimes tinged with savage overtones and just a little bit of magic to allow for unusual possibilities.
The characters - from Matilda's vile and despicable parents, Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and her villainous headmistress, the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, to the gloriously sweet-natured Miss Honey and Matilda - are as representative of the good and the bad as any of Dahl's creations. Their various faults are as ridiculous as their virtues are too good to be true.
And yet, through them, Dahl does, more than entertain. Juxtaposing these extremes, especially the underhand dealings of the Wormwoods and the terrifying scenes of humiliation played out by Miss Trunchbull (only Dahl could turn a chocolate cake into a weapon of torture!), he makes a barbed commentary on some of the things that he most disliked about contemporary society. The bullying of children by adults stands at the top of the list.
For a generation and more, Roald Dahl has consistently topped the polls of children's favourite authors. His ability to speak directly to his readers, siding with them against adults where necessary while entertaining them with magical possibilities, has given him a unique position as a creator of empowering fantasies.
The Reader of Books
Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer
The Hat and the Superglue
The Platinum-blond Man
Throwing the Hammer
Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cake
The Weekly Test
The First Miracle
The Second Miracle
Miss Honey's Cottage
Miss Honey's Story
The Third Miracle
A New Home
The Reader of Books
It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
Some parents go further. They become so blinded by adoration they manage to convince themselves their child has qualities of genius.
Well, there is nothing very wrong with all this. It's the way of the world. It is only when the parents begin telling us about the brilliance of their own revolting offspring, that we start shouting, 'Bring us a basin! We're going to be sick!'
School teachers suffer a good deal from having to listen to this sort of twaddle from proud parents, but they usually get their own back when the time comes to write the end-of-term reports. If I were a teacher I would cook up some real scorchers for the children of doting parents. 'Your son Maximilian,' I would write, 'is a total wash-out. I hope you have a family business you can push him into when he leaves school because he sure as heck won't get a j