on July 5, 1997
I loved the book The BFG,
I chose it over cable T.V.
The words in the story just tickled me pink,
After a while it made me think,
I'm glad Roald Dahl wrote this story,
If you read it, you won't be sorry.
Action-packed, and full of laughter,
I was splitting my sides just right after.
Page after page, I was stuck in the book,
And if you ask me its better than it looks.
I'm happy I found The Big Friendly Giant,
To read it again, I wouldn't mind it!
By Lori Schneider
on February 8, 2002
I am nine and a half years old. I liked the variety of stories and poems, but I was frustrated at first because I thought I would be reading entire stories. Instead, I found that the Treasury included only chapters of some stories. Short stories, like the Enormous Crocodile, were entirely included.
This book left me searching for the complete works of Roald Dahl.
Originally published in 1988, "Matilda" was one of the last books author Roald Dahl wrote before his death in 1990. Most authors as they age become more cynical and dour. Think of the final writings of Dickens or Twain and how bitter they seemed in their late years. Then look at "Matilda". Here we have a sweet charming little piece of literature about a girl that is both good and interesting. Creating characters that you identify intrinsically with is not only difficult but (in children's books) sometimes near impossible. Reading "Matilda", it becomes clear that Roald Dahl never lost his touch for creating wonderful original characters and situations.
The heroine of this little book also carries its name. Matilda is incredibly intelligent, even as a small child. Living with her boorish parents and oblivious brother, she teaches herself to read from the various magazine and newspapers lying about the house. Her parents are completely indifferent to their only daughter and it is only by playing small tricks on them when they've been particularly nasty that little Matilda is able to keep a hold on her sanity. By age five and a half Matilda has read all the children's books in the library and quite a few of the adult ones as well. On entering school for the first time, our protagonist comes face to face with a very worthy enemy. The Head Teacher, Miss Trunchbull, is the worst kind of dangerous violent adult. It is only through Matilda's cleverness that she is able to come to the aid of her teacher, Miss Honey, and save the school from the Trunchbull's insanity.
As I mentioned before, Matilda is just the nicest kid ever. Intelligent without ever becoming pig-headed. Nice without becomes precious. She's just a swell child all around. Through her, Dahl takes some mighty fine cracks as his fellow kiddie lit authors. I was especially fond of the portion in which Matilda points out that though C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are fine writers, "There aren't many funny bits". And as we all know, Dahl is the master of the funny bit for kids. This book is chock full of them too. It contains all the usual peculiar Dahl touches (like kids being swung out of the playground by their pigtails) as well as practical jokes and nasty adults. The Trunchbull is perhaps THE nastiest adult ever to grace the pages of the Dahl world. Definitely unhinged, she abuses the children around her, coming just shy of actual physical contact. It is amazing then that Dahl doesn't dispatch of her in a violent or crazy fashion. She merely...disappears. Likewise Matilda's parents get their comeuppance by merely fleeing the country to Spain. Dahl was quite soft in his old age, it seems.
Reading this book today I was struck by how much Lemony Snicket owes to Mr. Dahl. Not just the usual adults-are-nasty-cruel-and-possibly-batty take, but the narrative voice as well. It took me a couple minutes to realize that this was Dahl talking and not Mr. Handler. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, the book is perfectly complimented by the illustrators' insane imaginings and concoctions. The Blake/Dahl pairing is often inspired, and it works to its best advantage here. I can't imagine this book without Blake's particular little pointy nosed heroine gracing the pages. For those parents who either don't approve of Dahl or just don't "get" him, I think "Matilda" is the perfect story to win them over. You'd have to be pretty hard of heart not to love its little heroine and the troubles she gets into. A charming treat to be enjoyed for years to come.
on September 12, 2010
I confess -- I love the book "Matilda."
A total fantasy novel lies behind the mask of a British school tale.
Roald Dahl crossed the line into the utterly unbelievable by making his villains so incredibly bad. It's preposterous, and funny. So while this is a book that prominently features bullying, intimidation, horrible insults, and violent mistreatment of children, it isn't scary at all -- instead, it is funny.
It's the vocabulary words and the quality of the writing that get me. Superb.
As a read-aloud mom, who can read it and share the laughs with my family, I love this book. Still, I have to caution parents to pre-read it before you give it to your children. There is over-the-top anger, name-calling, and violence directed at kids -- and the kids take revenge in dangerous and harmful ways. We treat this the same way we treat Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety bird -- total fantasy. Don't behave like that. Isn't it funny?
Parents are the best judges. Give it a try.
Parent notes: truly awful name-calling, raging adults, parental abandonment, revenge against adults, mixing chemicals for revenge, lots of Forbidden Words, and a nice message in there about practice gets you to your goal.
on December 14, 1999
Hi, I'm a ten year old girl who has read the book The Twits, by Roald Dahl. It's disgusting in a way, exciting, and funny. The BFG was as good as The Twits, but it wasn't disgusting. The Twits are people that have three monkeys. They hate children. They make bird pie. Mrs. Twit has a glass eye. Mr. Twit has food in his beard which was very long. I would recommend this book to people that like funny, exciting, and disgusting books.
on November 17, 1999
My daughters favorite author is Roald Dahl, but she was really frustrated when we got the book because it contains mostly excerpts from various books he has written. It would be much better if it had complete stories. We had to go out and buy the full versions of the stories. It is marketed as a complete treasury but falls short. The illustrations are neat.
on April 2, 1998
While it's not a replacement for reading the complete works of Roald Dahl, this book is a lovely tribute to him and a good selection of his works. Personal tributes from some people who knew him well combine with excerpts from his longer books and full-text of some of his shorter works, including some items previously unpublished. This book is an excellent tool for teachers and librarians who would like to read aloud a variety of Dahl selections and excite students about reading the complete books for themselves. It's a real treat for anyone who loves the wry English wit of Dahl and the quirky illustrations of Quentin Blake, a treasure to own and use.
on May 3, 2001
Young Sophie lies awake in her orphanage at the Witching Hour! She can't sleep and strange, macabre thoughts go through her head. The real fun begins, however, when she creeps to her window and sees a giant figure poking about in the 2nd floor windows across the street! My gosh, it's a GIANT!! The real fun begins when he kidnaps her from her bed and runs off to the land of giants.
In the hands of a less capable author than Dahl, this plotline would soon fizzle and become ho-hum humdrum. Say what you will, Dahl is a very, VERY capable author and this book is simply fabulous. While most giants are the people eating kind (with colorful names like Childchewer, Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater), Sophie is lucky to have been captured by the BFG-- Big Friendly Giant! He's no guzzler of people (known in Giantspeak as "human beans"-- giants don't go to school and their grammer is somewhat lacking) but is rather a gentle soul who has a special trade to ply in the human world. There's only two small problems: the BFG lives in the land of giants where the other louts would only be too glad to guzzle her right up, and there's no food other than a strange, disgusting vegetable called a snozzcumber (it tastes like frog skins and dead fish). So, while Sophie's happy not to have been eaten up, she's none to happy to find that there's always that threat of being discovered and noting for HER to eat. Besides, the other giants (much bigger than the BFG) are constantly running to other countries to guzzle human beans by the cartload (Chille beans are especially yummy, we're told...). Something MUST be done... but what? Maybe she should go tell the queen...
I came to Dahl's work late in life (that is, recently, not in childhood) and have slowly been making my way through his works. So far, "The BFG" ranks as his best work. It is continuously engaging, very funny, and keeps the reader engaged from page 1 all the way through to the end. Young or intermediate readers may have difficulty with some of the phonetically spellings and Dahl-inspired words like "snozzcumber", "whizzpopping" and the generally gobbled-up grammar of the giants' speech. Still, it is a fantastic, fast-paced story that will be enjoyed for years to come by young and old. Highly recommended.
on January 2, 2001
I think Roald Dahl is the best children's author ever! I'm 20, and I still read his books. Matilda tells the story of a little girl genius. Matilda taught herself to read from the newspapers lying around her house when she was a baby and she practically exhausts the local library's collection before she even begins school. She is an extraordinary child, but she's not just smart. She has a daring vengeful streak... She gets excellent revenge on her father for horrid things he says to her. Once, he even tears up her library book. You really can't help but laugh and cheer for her when she gives the bad guys a dose of their own medicine!
Dahl's gift for inventing extraordinarily horrid characters is exercised beautifully in this story. Matilda's father is a cheating used car dealer, and her mother regularly leaves 4-year-old Matilda home alone all afternoon so that she can play Bingo in the next town. The Headmistress Trunchbull even throws a small girl across the playground by her pigtails! Matilda's parents ignore her, the Headmistress is a holy terror, and Matilda's only comfort is her kind teacher, Miss Honey. After the Headmistress, AKA the Trunchbull, does some particularly horrid things to the students and Miss Honey, Matilda uses her extraordinary brain to take back some of their own...
Like most of Dahl's books, there is an undeniable element of cruelty woven into this story-- but this is the best kind of cruelty! When the good guys win, like they always do in Dahl's books, kids cheer on the fall of the real evil.
Matilda is my favorite Roald Dahl book, but The BFG and The Witches are close runners-up. I highly recommend all of his books!
on May 22, 2000
Dahl's superb imagination has created a character, the BFG, who talks so whimsically and winsomely that I laughed out loud while reading this book. His child friend, Sophie, has no trouble understanding him, however, although she sometimes has to translate for less flexible or more pompous adults. The BFG's interactions with his fearsome peers demonstrate a high level of courage, particularly for a comic figure, and his nighttime activities indicate a delicacy of perception that few of us could attain. This is no two-dimensional character, but a real person that one would like to meet. The only fault I have to find with the book is that Sophie's strategy works too flawlessly, leaving no loose ends, no monsters at large who need to be chased. The relaxation of dramatic tension is complete. But then, I'm an adult; children who look under their beds each night would certainly prefer Dahl's ending. When I started reading this to my children, my first-grader, not an eager reader, could not bear to have me stop at the end of a chapter, and actually went on to read the next by himself. Parents, take note!