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Matilda by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald DAhl

To this day, I believe reading a lot gives you super powers and there are unfathomable creatures roaming the night before dawn.

Matilda: Tie-In

I reread Matilda, though I would have remembered it well enough without cracking open the book; I can’t recall how many times I’ve read this or seen the movie, but it’s definitely a lot. I can still remember actress Pam Ferris shouting, “Your mummy is a twit!” and much of the dialogue from the movie apparently stuck with me through this re-re-re-reading. This is one movie that I might actually like more than its original, although I never cared for the film adaptation’s adventure in Miss Trunchbull’s house. The changes I enjoyed the most for the film were Matilda’s parents, played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.

Mr. Wormwood: “What is this trash you’re reading?”
Matilda: “It’s not trash, Daddy, it’s lovely. It’s called ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville.”
Mr. Wormwood: “Moby what?”

(Matilda, TriStar Pictures)

I might, one day, set out to read all the books mentioned in the film and novel versions of Matilda. A few are already ticked off my list, but it might be fun to read them all as a set. Perhaps a Matilda challenge will be in order some years down the road. I would certainly like to read a lot of “Darles Chickens.” (Or Dahl’s Chickens, an inside joke from The BFG.)

Although I loathe books that tout film adaptation images on the cover, I’ll never give up my current and only copy of Matilda. Sure, it has a few typos, but it also has physical evidence of much happy reading. Besides, as long as the inside features the illustrations of Quentin Blake I’m one happy little girl. Below, Matilda and the Trunchbull shout across the page during the famous newt scene.

I really always thought they were more doodles than illustrations. These pictures are brash, squiggly, and disconnected, but I could never bear to read Dahl without Blake. He created the witches as I see them in my favorite book by Dahl. He also makes the characters feel so much more British, while the movie simply does, for me, when it takes place in the school yard.

Seeing the movie so many times only somewhat ruined me. When I read dialogue, it’s as if the actors are reciting their lines word for word, inflection for inflection. I also see places where the movie makes more sense in terms of character reactions and and the pacing of the plot, such as Mr. Wormwood blowing up at being accused of crookery. However, reading the book is such a treat for its obvious Britishness that I believe I have the best of both words; the memory of a well made film paired with a style of writing I adore. I mean really; how could you not picture the Trunchbull as we see her below?

I found out just days before posting this that there’s now a Matilda musical in London, soon to be on Broadway. As exciting as that sounds, I also learned that, in said musical, the Trunchbull dances with a ribbon. I don’t even care if she does it sarcastically (and I don’t know if she does). I’m going to sit this one out because I like my Trunchbull the way she has been for the past 20 years.

Shot-put. Hammer throw. Javelin.

Believe it or not, people like the Trunchbull actually exist and certainly are put in charge of children. I once knew someone like that, and the spitting image she was, although she definitely wasn’t a former Olympian. Her broad gait and beady eyes didn’t click with my memory of the Trunchbull until I happened to see a random scene on television of the monstrous woman pacing the room. The funny thing is: I’ll take the Trunchbull over that other one any day.

The BFG

I haven’t touched The BFG since 4th or 5th grade, so I’ve looked forward to the trip to the library just for this novel. Is there a BFG movie? Great galloping gottschalk, there is! I shall soon be indulging in that. It can’t be any more fun than the novel, though, because Dahl is much more fun to read.

Teachers and parents may either love or abhor reading The BFG out loud. Dahl is a master at made up words. Turn to any page of this book and you can find at least three puns, phrase variations, or altogether English-sounding nonsense. Here are three now: delumptious (delicious); flushbunking (an insult); you must be quacky as a duckhound (you must be crazy).

The longer you read, the easier it is to understand the Big Friendly Giant. In fact, once you finish the book, you begin speaking like him. Your sentences begin with “I is” instead of “I am,” and you begin to believe “crockadowndillies” is the proper way to say “crocodiles.” The giant’s trouble with the English language (or langwitch) is not only entertaining but an exercise with our own understanding of the spoken word.

From an early age, children know that when they say a word how they think it’s pronounced, their parents can pretty much understand them. The BFG does the same, although the words that sound entirely made up are used as though they have definitions. “Muckfrumping” makes for a great curse word. A child might suppose this word is another negative adjective, but adults would be entertained by the “muck” part and fill in their own blanks. It’s a linguistic wonder how one can fill these blanks with logic when the blanks have already been filled with nonsense.

This book must have influenced me to make up my own words back in the day. I is having a popwizzing time making new langwitch sound logmical.

I have more to write about Mr. Dahl, some of it bad and trivial and proper material for a thesis, but I intend to save it for a much later post after reading more of his works.

9 titles down, 43 to go.
Days left: 58.

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