Thursday, September 27, 2007

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Now that the summer is over, I feel invigorated. I enjoyed getting a ride to and from work from my husband in July and August--two months free of the pushing and shoving and rushing and overall bad attitude of those who ride public transit (and I see plenty of it, with a one-way trip involving 40 minutes on the commuter rail, 20 minutes on the subway, and 15 minutes on the bus, not including wait times)--but it was seriously cutting into my reading time. So much so that it took me about a month to finish Andrew Wilson's The Lying Tongue.

I've been back on the train for about three weeks, and I'm back to my 2-book-a-week schedule. Unfortunately, blogging time remains limited, and I already have a half-dozen books (actually, eight) under my belt that I want to talk about.

At the beginning of the summer, The Girl and I were having our usual Friday Mommy-Daughter Movie Night (as she calls it), and we saw Matilda for the first time. It was a cute movie; The Girl absolutely loved it and begged me to watch it again the next afternoon. (It's still saved in the Tivo, and I'm under strict orders not to delete it!)

I will admit that I was ignorant to the fact that Matilda was originally a novel written by Roald Dahl. Normally, I try to read the book before I watch the movies based on them, but when I unexpectedly stumbled upon Matilda in the library's summer reading section for children, I couldn't pass it up.

So The Girl and I read it together (actually, I read, and she listened) over the course of a month or so. (Now that my little 2nd grader can pretty much read whatever she wants on her own, she doesn't need me anymore. She's currently reading E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Sometimes these growing up milestones are depressing, but I'm glad she's a bookworm like her mother.)

Having already seen the movie, we had lengthy conversations about whether books are better than the movies (I chose books, of course, and she chose movies because part of her still doesn't want to come to terms with the fact that chapter books tend to lack pictures) and the differences between Matilda the book and Matilda the movie.

We both liked how Matilda's "powers" are more developed in the movie and how the movie really showcases the evilness of Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress. But we liked how the book tells you which books Matilda took out of the library, giving The Girl some ideas for future reading. Also, scenes not included in the movie (i.e. the "ghost" parrot) kept her interested when she knew how the story was going to end.

But do you know what the best part of the book was for me and why I'll never forget it? Curling up on the couch or in bed with The Girl's head on my shoulder and her laughs when I did my best to imitate Miss Trunchbull's "movie voice" while I read. Oh, and watching her close her eyes when I read the pages without pictures as she created the images in her head. It reaffirmed my belief that there are so many more possibilities for adventure between the covers of a book than on the screen. In a world where cartoons are available to kids 24/7, we need to encourage our children to use their imaginations, broaden their horizons, and foster their creativity by learning to read. And reading with them will do the same things for us.

Disclosure:  I borrowed Matilda from the library.


Bethany said...

I loved that book! Where did those books go? Roald Dahl was such a gifted story teller, but I will admit, they are some frightening subject matter. If you look at his books, some of those characters are downright evil, but so well developed. Even Willy Wonka had a streak of cruelty about him. Now we get Bratz, talk about the dumbing down of America I liked Dahl because he didn't patronize his readers, he knew they were intelligent and could handle a smidgen of adult themes. That was a great choice for your daughter. My personal favorite was the The Witches.
BTW, I joined a group on ravelry called Craft Lit. It is a once a week pod cast about a book, it is great. The past few weeks have been Tristan and Isolde.
They are starting Frakenstein soon!

Anna said...

Dahl did deal with some more adult themes. I know The Girl didn't quite understand why Matilda's parents were so mean and in trouble with the law. Ah, well.

She's got Dahl's "The Twits" on hold at the library, and I'll have to check out "The Witches."

Oh, and I found you over at Ravelry! Glad you finally got your invite!

Serena said...

sounds like a great kid's book. I knew he wrote it, but have never read it. Good thing the girl liked it both as a movie and a book

Anna said...

You should read it. As an adult, even I enjoyed it. :D

Serena said...

perhaps i will someday...still working on the current list of books.