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Matilda - Roald Dahl


Published: 26th June 2013
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old
Ships: 5 to 9 business days
5 to 9 business days
RRP $14.99

Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents.

Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers.

But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that, even though she's only small, she's got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve . . .

About the Author

Roald Dahl, the best-loved of children's writers, was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. After school in England he went to work for Shell in Africa. He began to write after "a monumental bash on the head", sustained as an RAF pilot in World War II. Roald Dahl died in 1990.

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 s 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 country 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 extra-ordinary, 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 daughters. 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.
Roald Dahl

When he was at school Roald Dahl received terrible reports for his writing - with one teacher actually writing in his report, 'I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper!'

After finishing school Roald Dahl, in search of adventure, travelled to East Africa to work for a company called Shell. In Africa he learnt to speak Swahili, drove from diamond mines to gold mines, and survived a bout of malaria where his temperature reached 105.5 degrees (that's very high!).

With the outbreak of the Second World War Roald Dahl joined the RAF. But being nearly two metres tall he found himself squashed into his fighter plane, knees around his ears and head jutting forward. Tragically of the 20 men in his squadron, Roald Dahl was one of only three to survive. Roald wrote about these experiences in his books Boy and Going Solo.

Later in the war Roald Dahl was sent to America. It was there that he met famous author C.S. Forester (author of the Captain Hornblower series) who asked the young pilot to write down his war experiences for a story he was writing. Forester was amazed by the result, telling Roald 'I'm bowled over. Your piece is marvellous. It is the work of a gifted writer. I didn't touch a word of it.' (an opinion which would have been news to Roald's early teachers!). Forester sent Roald Dahl's work straight to the Saturday Evening Post. Roald Dahl's growing success as an author led him to meet many famous people including Walt Disney, Franklin Roosevelt, and the movie star Patricia Neal. Patricia and Roald were married only one year after they met!

The couple bought a house in Great Missenden called Gipsy House. It was here that Roald Dahl began to tell his five children made-up bedtime stories and from those that he began to consider writing stories for children.

An old wooden shed in the back garden, with a wingbacked armchair, a sleeping bag to keep out the cold, an old suitcase to prop his feet on and always, always six yellow pencils at his hand, was where Roald created the worlds of The BFG, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many, many more.

Visit Roald Dahl's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9780141346342
ISBN-10: 0141346345
Audience: Children
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old
For Grades: 4 - 7
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 26th June 2013
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 13.2  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.24
Edition Number: 2