We are on a Roald Dahl kick, and decided to read Matilda next. I don't know how I missed it as a child - it is really spectacular!
The Story: Matilda is a genius. She began reading all on her own at about 3, read all of the children's books in the library by about age 4 1/2, and then graduated to reading Dickens and the like, with great enjoyment. She is a whiz at math, and seems to have nothing that is really beyond her. The only problem is, her parents are completely unable to see how special she is. Her father is a scheming used car salesman, and her mother is a bingo addict, and they never want to do anything other than watch television and eat their tv dinners. They ignore her more often than not, and when they do notice her, they label her as trouble from the get go. When Matilda starts school, she finally gets noticed for the special little girl that she is, and her life changes forever.
The Good: Matilda is amazingly smart, but never conceited about it. She is clever and a good person. She doesn't let her situation get her down. Her parents are terrible and mean, but she gets even with them in creative ways. Her relationship with her teacher, Miss Honey, is lovely. Miss Honey is the first person (besides the stunned librarian) who really sees the potential in Matilda. There are some fun, unexpected, near magical things about Matilda as well. She makes you want to be just a little like her.
The Bad: Matilda does get some good revenge, and it isn't always nice. (Not that they didn't deserve it). Miss Trunchbull, the horrific headmistress, is really really awful in so many ways, and is scary. The grown ups, for the most part, are non-receptive to Matilda. Her parents are also really unpleasant. Her brother is mentioned but never really plays much of a part in the book at all. Near the end (spoiler alert), Matilda's family decides to up and move to Spain, and that had Evalina in full-blown tears, while I urged her to keep reading because I was sure it would all work out in the end. Matilda also makes even the smartest person look a bit dull.
The Verdict: Amazingly written, funny, and sweet, Matilda is a book I would recommend to anyone. Evalina adored it. Amazon recommends it for ages 9-12, but I think earlier readers would appreciate it just as much (Evalina is now 6 1/2). The Trunchbull is evil, but almost humorously so. There is always a sense of humor about everything. That's why we are enjoying Roald Dahl so much. I really want to watch the movie and see how it compares. I've heard it's good. Anyone have any opinions? I can't wait to read more Roald Dahl. I don't think you can go wrong.
Edited to add: We watched the movie this morning, and it was fabulous! It differed from the book somewhat, but in good ways. We both enjoyed it a lot.