For this task my first stop was raiding the bookshelves of my parent’s house. My eyes were drawn to Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The worn, bluey yellow spine brought back memories of re-reading the story multiple times, as I did with most Dahl stories. The yellowing pages were up-turned at every corner, proof-positive of a well-thumbed book.
I wanted to find a book I remembered I liked, to see how the story differed from an adult’s perspective. There are two conundrums with this. Firstly, would it spoil the happy and fond memories of so long ago, now that my adult’s eye would analyse every sentence and happening. Or secondly, would it improve the story and the writing, being able to appreciate the story-telling, imagination and literature from a world-weary view.
So I read Matilda on a long-haul flight in under 3 hours, drinking in every word, illustration and colourful character. In a change to the norm of reading novels, it was a child-like, guilty-pleasure to read a story with pictures. The book was published in 1988 and I am fairly certain I read it first within minutes of it being published – over 23 years ago. And it certainly did not disappoint. The characters are so cleverly described, the names of whom are funny in their own right. The plot captivating, the motivations of the cast thought out. Even for this 33 year old, the getting-one-over-the-adults (especially a mean teacher) appeals so much to younger teenagers. It’s no wonder I loved it as a kid. And it really isn’t patronising, which is what I expected before I flicked open the first page. Words like ‘asinine’, ‘ethereal’ and ‘seraphic’, and phrases such as ‘lovely pale oval madonna face’, ‘the prostrate giant’, and ‘huge overstuffed grub, replete, comatose’ pepper the prose like a mad uncle – familiar but strange. There were a few gripes, particularly with speech, but it did not cloud the experience one bit.
Most of all, reading those yellowing pages on my business-class flat bed, seeing the faded corners of the pages that had been folded over by my 10-year-old self 23 years ago took me back to a memory of an excited boy, lying on his cabin bed, feet swaying in the air behind him, savouring every word, paragraph and chapter again and again. That was the best memory of re-reading Matilda.
If you want to read some silly analysis into the story, click here:
After reading the book, I feel obliged to go and see Matilda the Musical
Go on, try it yourself! Post your photos and comments to the Wobble a Jelly Facebook page.
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