"Can I help you, Matilda?" she asked.Jemimah is reading Matilda by Roald Dahl. I know lots of parents don't approve, but I do - I think Roald's books are just fantabulous fun. The BFG is Jemimah's and my favourite - mainly for the splendiferous neologisms that come from the giant's mouth, but Matilda's up there as well for its sheer pleasurable naughtiness!!
"I'm wondering what to read next, Matilda said. "I've finished all the children's books."
"You mean you've looked at the pictures?"
"Yes, but I've read the books as well."
Mrs Phelps looked down at Matilda from her great height and Matilda looked right back up at her.
"I thought some were very poor," Matilda said, "but others were lovely. I liked The Secret Garden best of all. It was full of mystery. The mystery of the room behind the closed door and the mystery of the garden behind the big wall."
Mrs Phelps was stunned. "Exactly how old are you Matilda?" she asked.
"Four years and three months," Matilda said.
Mrs Phelps was more stunned than ever, but she had the sense not to show it. "What sort of book would you like to read next?" she asked.
Matilda said, "I would like a really good one that grown-ups read. A famous one. I don't know any names."...
..."Try this," she said at last. "It's very famous and very good. If it's too long for you, just let me know and I'll find something shorter and a bit easier."
"Great Expectations," Matilda read, "by Charles Dickens. I'd love to try it."...
...Within a week, Matilda had finished Great Expectations which in that edition contained four hundred and eleven pages. "I loved it," she said to Mrs Phelps. "Has Mr Dickens written any others?"
"A great number," said the astounded Mrs Phelps. "Shall I chose you another?"
In honour of Rould Dahl's birthday - which would have been today - I thought we might have a bit of a look at Matilda's Reading List. Which ones have you read? I've read the predictable ones (the orange ones). What about you? Are you, like me, upstaged by a four-year-old, albeit a precocious and fictitious one?
Over the next six months, under Mrs Phelps's watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read the following books:Wanna play?
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man by H G Wells
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Good Companions by J B Priestly
Brighton Rock by Graham Green
Animal Farm by George Orwell
By the way, if you haven't read The BFG out loud to your kids, you really must - it is such fun! You should probably read Matilda as well.
Happy Birthday, Mr Dahl.