Matilda, by Roald Dahl, is a well-loved children's book about a girl with amazing intelligence and she is only starting Kindergarten. She is mistreated by her parents, as they would prefer she watches TV rather than read books. They don't appreciate her amazing brain power, and make fun of her. Because of it, Matilda decides to play pranks on her family. Her schoolteacher, Miss Honey, discovers her gift on the first day of school and seems to be the only one who realizes her potential. There are more conflicts as the story continues and Miss Honey discovers many amazing abilities Matilda can achieve as she tests her to see how intelligent she really is!

At first, I was disgusted by this book. The verbal abuse at the hand of Matilda's parents and the physical abuse at the hand of her headmistress at school was horrid. Absolutely horrid. However, I think that Roald Dahl was intentionally trying to make these actions over the top horrible in order to make a point. I believe that his purpose was to contrast Good vs Evil in such a way that would make it obvious to root for those who are put into difficult situations and family lifestyles like neglect and abuse. Although Matilda struggles with her own desire for revenge, in the end she uses her intelligence and her heart for compassion rather than selfish gain.

As a teacher, I am a mandatory reporter, which means I must report to the authorities if I see or suspect any children have been abused at any time or location. So, this book strikes a chord with me because I could have called to report MANY incidents in this book, so it is understandably difficult for me to read. However, he kindness and compassion we see in Matilda and Miss Honey make this book worth reading. They overcome Evil with Good and the ending is wonderful!

--Mr. Riedl