About the Author
After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living in England with his family. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.
Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.
Learn more about Roald Dahl on the official Roald Dahl Web site: www.roalddahl.com
Date of Birth:September 13, 1916
Date of Death:November 23, 1990
Place of Birth:Llandaff, Wales, England
Place of Death:Oxford, England
Read an Excerpt
The Trunchbull let out a yell. . .
The Trunchbull lifted the water-jug and poured some water into her glass. And suddenly, with the water, out came the long slimy newt straight into the glass, plop!
The Trunchbull let out a yell and leapt off her chair as though a firecracker had gone off underneath her.
She stared at the creature twisting and wriggling in the glass. The fires of fury and hatred were smouldering in the Trunchbull’s small black eyes.
“Matilda!” she barked. “Stand up!”
“Who, me?” Matilda said. “What have I done?”
“Stand up, you disgusting little cockroach! You filthy little maggot! You are a vile, repellent, malicious little brute!” The Trunchbull was shouting. “You are not fit to be in this school! You ought to be behind bars, that’s where you ought to be! I shall have the prefects chase you down the corridor and out of the front-door with hockey-sticks!”
The Trunchbull was in such a rage that her face had taken on a boiled colour and little flecks of froth were gathering at the corners of her mouth. But Matilda was also beginning to see red. She had had absolutely nothing to do with the beastly creature in the glass. By golly, she thought, that rotten Trunchbull isn’t going to pin this one on me!
Puffin Books by Roald Dahl
Boy: Tales of Childhood
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Danny the Champion of the World
The Enormous Crocodile
Fantastic Mr. Fox
George’s Marvelous Medicine
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
James and the Giant Peach
The Magic Finger
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
The Vicar of Nibbleswicke
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More
illustrated by Quentin Blake
For Michael and Lucy
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 job anywhere else.” Or if I were feeling lyrical that day, I might write, “It is a curious truth that grasshoppers have their hearing-organs in the sides of the abdomen. Your daughter Vanessa, judging by what she’s learnt this term, has no hearing-organs at all.”
I might even delve deeper into natural history and say, “The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from the chrysalis.” A particularly poisonous little girl might sting me into saying, “Fiona has the same glacial beauty as an iceberg, but unlike the iceberg she has absolutely nothing below the surface.” I think I might enjoy writing end-of-term reports for the stinkers in my class. But enough of that. We have to get on.
Occasionally one comes across parents who take the opposite line, who show no interest at all in their children, and these of course are far worse than the doting ones. Mr and Mrs Wormwood were two such parents. They had a son called Michael and a daughter called Matilda, and the parents looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab. A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away. Mr and Mrs Wormwood looked forward enormously to the time when they could pick their little daughter off and flick her away, preferably into the next county or even further than that.
It is bad enough when parents treat ordinary children as though they were scabs and bunions, but it becomes somehow a lot worse when the child in question is extraordinary, and by that I mean sensitive and brilliant. Matilda was both of these things, but above all she was brilliant. Her mind was so nimble and she was so quick to learn that her ability should have been obvious even to the most half-witted of parents. But Mr and Mrs Wormwood were both so gormless and so wrapped up in their own silly little lives that they failed to notice anything unusual about their daughter. To tell the truth, I doubt they would have noticed had she crawled into the house with a broken leg.
Matilda’s brother Michael was a perfectly normal boy, but the sister, as I said, was something to make your eyes pop. By the age of one and a half her speech was perfect and she knew as many words as most grown-ups. The parents, instead of applauding her, called her a noisy chatterbox and told her sharply that small girls should be seen and not heard.
By the time she was three, Matilda had taught herself to read by studying newspapers and magazines that lay around the house. At the age of four, she could read fast and well and she naturally began hankering after books. The only book in the whole of this enlightened household was something called Easy Cooking belonging to her mother, and when she had read this from cover to cover and had learnt all the recipes by heart, she decided she wanted something more interesting.
“Daddy,” she said, “do you think you could buy me a book?”
“A book?” he said. “What d’you want a flaming book for?”
“To read, Daddy.”
“What’s wrong with the telly, for heaven’s sake? We’ve got a lovely telly with a twelve-inch screen and now you come asking for a book! You’re getting spoiled, my girl!”
Nearly every weekday afternoon Matilda was left alone in the house. Her brother (five years older than her) went to school. Her father went to work and her mother went out playing bingo in a town eight miles away. Mrs Wormwood was hooked on bingo and played it five afternoons a week. On the afternoon of the day when her father had refused to buy her a book, Matilda set out all by herself to walk to the public library in the village. When she arrived, she introduced herself to the librarian, Mrs Phelps. She asked if she might sit awhile and read a book. Mrs Phelps, slightly taken aback at the arrival of such a tiny girl unaccompanied by a parent, nevertheless told her she was very welcome.
“Where are the children’s books please?” Matilda asked.
“They’re over there on those lower shelves,” Mrs Phelps told her. “Would you like me to help you find a nice one with lots of pictures in it?”
“No, thank you,” Matilda said. “I’m sure I can manage.”
From then on, every afternoon, as soon as her mother had left for bingo, Matilda would toddle down to the library. The walk took only ten minutes and this allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cosy corner devouring one book after another. When she had read every single children’s book in the place, she started wandering round in search of something else.
Mrs Phelps, who had been watching her with fascination for the past few weeks, now got up from her desk and went over to her. “Can I help you, Matilda?” she asked.
“I’m wondering what to read next,” Matilda said. “I’ve finished all the children’s books.”
“You mean you’ve looked at the pictures?”
“Yes, but I’ve read the books as well.”
Mrs Phelps looked down at Matilda from her great height and Matilda looked right back up at her.
“I thought some were very poor,” Matilda said, “but others were lovely. I liked The Secret Garden best of all. It was full of mystery. The mystery of the room behind the closed door and the mystery of the garden behind the big wall.”
Mrs Phelps was stunned. “Exactly how old are you, Matilda?” she asked.
“Four years and three months,” Matilda said.
Mrs Phelps was more stunned than ever, but she had the sense not to show it. “What sort of a book would you like to read next?” she asked.
Matilda said, “I would like a really good one that grown-ups read. A famous one. I don’t know any names.”
Mrs Phelps looked along the shelves, taking her time. She didn’t quite know what to bring out. How, she asked herself, does one choose a famous grown-up book for a four-year-old girl? Her first thought was to pick a young teenager’s romance of the kind that is written for fifteen-year-old schoolgirls, but for some reason she found herself instinctively walking past that particular shelf.
“Try this,” she said at last. “It’s very famous and very good. If it’s too long for you, just let me know and I’ll find something shorter and a bit easier.”
“Great Expectations,” Matilda read, “by Charles Dickens. I’d love to try it.”
I must be mad, Mrs Phelps told herself, but to Matilda she said, “Of course you may try it.”
Over the next few afternoons Mrs Phelps could hardly take her eyes from the small girl sitting for hour after hour in the big armchair at the far end of the room with the book on her lap. It was necessary to rest it on the lap because it was too heavy for her to hold up, which meant she had to sit leaning forward in order to read. And a strange sight it was, this tiny dark-haired person sitting there with her feet nowhere near touching the floor, totally absorbed in the wonderful adventures of Pip and old Miss Havisham and her cobwebbed house and by the spell of magic that Dickens the great story-teller had woven with his words. The only movement from the reader was the lifting of the hand every now and then to turn over a page, and Mrs Phelps always felt sad when the time came for her to cross the floor and say, “It’s ten to five, Matilda.”
During the first week of Matilda’s visits Mrs Phelps had said to her, “Does your mother walk you down here every day and then take you home?”
“My mother goes to Aylesbury every afternoon to play bingo,” Matilda had said. “She doesn’t know I come here.”
“But that’s surely not right,” Mrs Phelps said. “I think you’d better ask her.”
“I’d rather not,” Matilda said. “She doesn’t encourage reading books. Nor does my father.”
“But what do they expect you to do every afternoon in an empty house?”
“Just mooch around and watch the telly.”
“She doesn’t really care what I do,” Matilda said a little sadly.
Mrs Phelps was concerned about the child’s safety on the walk through the fairly busy village High Street and the crossing of the road, but she decided not to interfere.
Within a week, Matilda had finished Great Expectations which in that edition contained four hundred and eleven pages. “I loved it,” she said to Mrs Phelps. “Has Mr Dickens written any others?”
“A great number,” said the astounded Mrs Phelps. “Shall I choose you another?”
Over the next six months, under Mrs Phelps’s watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read the following books:
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Good Companions by J. B. Priestley
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Animal Farm by George Orwell
It was a formidable list and by now Mrs Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement, but it was probably a good thing that she did not allow herself to be completely carried away by it all. Almost anyone else witnessing the achievements of this small child would have been tempted to make a great fuss and shout the news all over the village and beyond, but not so Mrs Phelps. She was someone who minded her own business and had long since discovered it was seldom worth while to interfere with other people’s children.
“Mr Hemingway says a lot of things I don’t understand,” Matilda said to her. “Especially about men and women. But I loved it all the same. The way he tells it I feel I am right there on the spot watching it all happen.”
“A fine writer will always make you feel that,” Mrs Phelps said. “And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.”
“I will, I will.”
“Did you know”, Mrs Phelps said, “that public libraries like this allow you to borrow books and take them home?”
“I didn’t know that,” Matilda said. “Could I do it?”
“Of course,” Mrs Phelps said. “When you have chosen the book you want, bring it to me so I can make a note of it and it’s yours for two weeks. You can take more than one if you wish.”
From then on, Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her. She was not quite tall enough to reach things around the kitchen, but she kept a small box in the outhouse which she brought in and stood on in order to get whatever she wanted. Mostly it was hot chocolate she made, warming the milk in a saucepan on the stove before mixing it. Occasionally she made Bovril or Ovaltine. It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer
Matilda’s parents owned quite a nice house with three bedrooms upstairs, while on the ground floor there was a dining-room and a living-room and a kitchen. Her father was a dealer in second-hand cars and it seemed he did pretty well at it.
“Sawdust”, he would say proudly, “is one of the great secrets of my success. And it costs me nothing. I get it free from the sawmill.”
“What do you use it for?” Matilda asked him.
“Ha!” the father said. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“I don’t see how sawdust can help you to sell second-hand cars, daddy.”
“That’s because you’re an ignorant little twit,” the father said. His speech was never very delicate but Matilda was used to it. She also knew that he liked to boast and she would egg him on shamelessly.
“You must be very clever to find a use for something that costs nothing,” she said. “I wish I could do it.”
“You couldn’t,” the father said. “You’re too stupid. But I don’t mind telling young Mike here about it seeing he’ll be joining me in the business one day.” Ignoring Matilda, he turned to his son and said, “I’m always glad to buy a car when some fool has been crashing the gears so badly they’re all worn out and rattle like mad. I get it cheap. Then all I do is mix a lot of sawdust with the oil in the gear-box and it runs as sweet as a nut.”
“How long will it run like that before it starts rattling again?” Matilda asked him.
“Long enough for the buyer to get a good distance away,” the father said, grinning. “About a hundred miles.”
“But that’s dishonest, daddy,” Matilda said. “It’s cheating.”
“No one ever got rich being honest,” the father said. “Customers are there to be diddled.”
Mr Wormwood was a small ratty-looking man whose front teeth stuck out underneath a thin ratty moustache. He liked to wear jackets with large brightly-coloured checks and he sported ties that were usually yellow or pale green. “Now take mileage for instance,” he went on. “Anyone who’s buying a second-hand car, the first thing he wants to know is how many miles it’s done. Right?”
“Right,” the son said.
“So I buy an old dump that’s got about a hundred and fifty thousand miles on the clock. I get it cheap. But no one’s going to buy it with a mileage like that, are they? And these days you can’t just take the speedometer out and fiddle the numbers back like you used to ten years ago. They’ve fixed it so it’s impossible to tamper with it unless you’re a ruddy watchmaker or something. So what do I do? I use my brains, laddie, that’s what I do.”
“How?” young Michael asked, fascinated. He seemed to have inherited his father’s love of crookery.
“I sit down and say to myself, how can I convert a mileage reading of one hundred and fifty thousand into only ten thousand without taking the speedometer to pieces? Well, if I were to run the car backwards for long enough then obviously that would do it. The numbers would click backwards, wouldn’t they? But who’s going to drive a flaming car in reverse for thousands and thousands of miles? You couldn’t do it!”
“Of course you couldn’t,” young Michael said.
“So I scratch my head,” the father said. “I use my brains. When you’ve been given a fine brain like I have, you’ve got to use it. And all of a sudden, the answer hits me. I tell you, I felt exactly like that other brilliant fellow must have felt when he discovered penicillin. ‘Eureka!’ I cried. ‘I’ve got it!’”
“What did you do, dad?” the son asked him.
“The speedometer”, Mr Wormwood said, “is run off a cable that is coupled up to one of the front wheels. So first I disconnect the cable where it joins the front wheel. Next, I get one of those high-speed electric drills and I couple that up to the end of the cable in such a way that when the drill turns, it turns the cable backwards. You got me so far? You following me?”
“Yes, daddy,” young Michael said.
Table of Contents
|The Reader of Books||7|
|Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer||22|
|The Hat and the Superglue||30|
|The Platinum-Blond Man||56|
|Throwing the Hammer||101|
|Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cake||117|
|The Weekly Test||141|
|The First Miracle||159|
|The Second Miracle||170|
|Miss Honey's Cottage||177|
|Miss Honey's Story||193|
|The Third Miracle||215|
|A New Home||227|
What People are Saying About This
Roald Dahl has done it again. . . . Matilda will surely go straight to children's hearts. (The New York Times Book Review)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I LOVED THIS BOOK USUALLY I AM A SLOW READER BUT THIS BOOK TOOK ME ONLY 2 NIGHTS TO READ. 'TS ONE OF THOSE BOOKS THAT YOU WOULD STAY UP ALL NIGHT READING. IT HAS BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTAVE WRITING NOT TO MANY PICTURES THOUGH BUT YOU DONT EVEN NEED THEM YOU CAN IMAGINE IT RIGHT IN YOUR HEAD. EMMA :)
As a class we read this book weekly. My students love Matilda because she knows how to trick her parents. Ms. Trunchbull is a character we love to hate. We especially love the chapter on Bruce Bogtrotter. Very funny... We strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves Raold Dahl.
Matilda is wonderful book for people of all ages. I have read it about three or four times! Matilda is funny, cute, and inspiring. I recomend this book to everyone!
Matilda was a very very good book to read. I would recommend it to kids 8-12. Roald Dahl's writing gave you a clear picture of what you were reading in Matilda. If you are close to a book store, run out and buy this book now and enjoy reading it, like I did!
"MATILDA Matilda is a genius. Unfortunately, her family treats her like a dolt. Her crooked car salesmanfather and loud bingo-obsessed mother think Matilda's only talent is a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in their miserable lives. But its not too long before the sweet and sensitive child decides to fight back. Faced with practical jokes of sheer brilliance, her parents don't stand a chance. The Trunchbull however is a different story. Miss Trunchbull ex-Olympic hammer thrower and headmistress of Matilda's school has terrorized generations of Crunchem Hall students-and teachers. But when she goes after sweet Miss Honey, the one teacher who believes in Matilda, she goes too far." This is an extrodanary, fasinating and amazing book. I look forward to reading ALL of Roald Dahl's wonderous books. Written by: Samantha :)
Matilda is about a young girl named Matilda. Matilda seems like the average child on the outside, but on the inside is very smart and mischievious. Besides dealing with the averagefamily problems, her family doesn't even love her. They dislike her because she is smart. Eventually, Matilda becomes so bored, because she isn't challenged enough, that she developes powers that enable her to do things by staring at it. In the end, everything works out for her, but how that happens is very exciting. You'll have to read 'Matilda', by Rauld Dahl to find out what happens.
My fourth grade students are reading Matilda. They love the diverse "good guy", "bad guy" characters that Dahl develops. Vocabulary is rich and the adventures and determination of bright little Matilda make for a delightful read. We read Witches, by Dahl, earlier in the year. He is, indeed, an entertaining author!
This book is awesome! I read the book and watched the movie! Great read! Paris, age 8
I loved the book so much, that i decided to write a poem about it! I was always pushed around, But this is the story of how I was found! In a way its a sad story, but at the end there is glory! I had nobody to turn to, But I never lost hope. I knew that when I found a friend, I would be able to cope. Next, I had found a friend that accepts me for me, She is a true friend indeed, that's her guarentee! She doesn't care about my flaws, that's what a friend would do, She's made my life so much better, Miss Honey, that person is you! You have taught me to stand up for mtself and to never cry, I know that I can be honest with you, and to never lie. Thank you for taking the horrible things in my life away, I promise to be there, loyal, and respectful to you each and every day!
Great classic book to share!
I think this book is sooooo cool! Matida is smarter then me, and i am 8 years old! The movie is ok but they leave out the part about the parort! But i would still say it is about as good as the movie.(:
I thought Matilda was an extremely good book. I read it over a year ago, but I just remember not wanting to take my eyes off of it. It is a classic, and like all Roald Dahl books, will definitely satisfy you until the book falls apart. (That is why I would recommend the hard cover.)
One of the best books by Roald Dahl along with The BFG. This book never gets old and it is hilarious!!!!
i think that Matilda is a great book. it's definatly fast reading.i reccomend it for people ages 8-12 give or take a little.
Is someone trying to be like Rohl Daul because it sure seems like it.... except they don't have the settings and event in the right places..
I Absolutely Love Roald Dahl and his stories, and I really love this book I also really love the movie
If you were to buy this book, which you should, keep reading because the feather you go with reading this book the more interesting it gets.
This is my favorite Roald Dahl book and one of my favorite books of all time. Recommended for children and adults alike. The characters are hilarious, and I suggest seeing the movie and/or checking out the Broadway musical. Even if you aren't interested in either of those, READ THIS BOOK. Highs and lows, tears and laughter, and it gives you happy ever after!!!! Five stars no doubt. <3 this book!
I read the book in fourth grade for school and i fell in love with it. I asked for the movie for my bday and i love roald dahl iv read all of his books
I purchased this book. Matilda is the classic story of an incredible smart little girl who develops telekinesis and uses it, not to improve her own horrible home life, but to help others. Don't know it? Perhaps you should. The differences between the book and movie versions are minute, but present. The movie is more Americanized and the story is smoother, but it lacks one of the books very strong points-a higher level of vocabulary. In Matilda Dahl (also the author of The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and James and Giant Peach) presents his typical style, pitting a child against horrible adults who actively hate or seek to do the child harm. The title character lives in a home that not only doesn't appreciate her high level of intelligence, but ridicules it because her family is intimidated and scared by it. Matilda's family is emotionally abusive and neglectful, which some parents would seek to avoid, but I find an honest approach to life. Dahl's books don't treat children like they can't handle the darker side of things. Dahl doesn't ignore that there are some pretty crappy people out there, and sometimes they happen to have kids. Dahl, unlike a lot of authors, presents childhood as a battlefield. However not all children are perfect angels (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an example here), and not all adults are horrendous bullies. In Matilda her family may be part of the problem, but she finds an ally in her teacher, Miss Honey, who is a survivor of a bullied childhood. Through the book we learn not about revenge on bad people, or being nice despite being bullied and neglected, Dahl teaches kids to recognize and treasure the good parts of life, without letting the bad parts define themselves, or their experience. Also a smart part of this book is the accelerated vocabulary, which again, shows that Dahl distinctly decides not to treat children as incapable or juvenile. Because of the number of big words, all used in a context that makes them easy to understand, this book is best read as a collaborative effort between an adult and child, unless an child closer to teendom is the reader. I highly recommend Matilda on every level, especially because in the realm of fiction girls are often sentenced to be side kicks and creatures of first crushes, but Matilda is a strong, independent, intelligent girl who solves problems on her own. Matilda is the precursor to the more recent Coraline, with less a less scary and a more over the top spin.
i really dont get how Roald Dahl writes so enchantingly. i love the way he writes. and he makes up his own words too!!!! and matildas a really cool girl. i sometimes i wish i was her.
this book is so cool. It makes you think if your parents where like that!
This book was about a girl named Matilda, and her parents are very mean to her. She asks them for a book, and they say no. Her father told her that why would she want a book if she has the television to watch. So when she turned five, she went to school. It wasn't any ordinary school; it was a school with a cruel principal. The principal would do things to children that you wouldn't think of, but her teacher was nice. Her name was Ms.Honey. Ms. honey found that Matilda was very smart, so she invited her to have tea. Ms. Honey told Matida that the principal was her aunt. Matilda was shocked. Also, matilda do something bad to her parents and principal. Well if you want to know, read matilda!
I DIDN'T READ ALL OF IT YET BUT IT REALLY.I LIKED HOW MATILDA FOUGHT BACK FROM HER DADDY.
Matilda is a wonderful book that I have enjoyed for years. The movie dose not give the book justice. The book is 1 millon times greater than any movie.It is outstaning.Another best seller by Roal Dahl. This book is very good. My favrte part for exsample is a part in the story where Matilda sticks a brid up in the chimmny. The bird is trained to say things 'Rattel my bones' she scears her family to death. Ut is a qonderfull book for any Child.