Matilda

Title of Book: Matilda by Roald Dahl

GoodReads Rating: 4.28

Summary:

Matilda tells the story of a highly intelligent four-year-old girl living in a family that does not appreciate her genius – or even seem to love her. She eventually goes to school where she meets her antagonist, Headmistress Trunchbull, and her defender, teacher Miss Honey. Using her brain and some magical powers, she is able to defeat her antagonist, move out of her parents’ home, and live the rest of her days peacefully with Miss Honey.

APA Reference of Book:

Dahl, R. (1988). Matilda. New York, NY: Viking.

My Impressions: 

Before reading Matilda, I had heard a lot about it, but never had the chance to read it. I knew there would be a good chance I would like it since I had enjoyed some of Dahl’s other books. As a teacher and a librarian, it is easy to relate to Matilda, the child who loves reading. Her character, along with her family members, Miss Honey, and Ms. Trunchbull, are developed in charming detail which makes the story engaging and a pleasure to read. Dahl is especially gifted at criticizing an adult world from the perspective of a child. For example, Matilda’s father is a crooked used car salesman, a fact which she acknowledges but is ashamed to admit. In addition, her parents are addicted to TV-watching and discourage Matilda from reading. Children reading this book will be terrified of Trunchbull, and will celebrate when she is embarassed in the cake scene and newt scene. Most of all they will rejoice when she is defeated in the end by young Matilda’s wit.

Professional Review:

Gr 4-6 – Dahl’s latest piece of madcap mayhem is a story filled with the elements that his fans crave-sardonic humor, the evilest of villains, the most virtuous of heroines, and children who eventually defeat those big bad grown-ups. In this book, Matilda isn’t just smart, she is “extra-ordinary…sensitive and brilliant,” reading Great Expectations as a four year old. Unfortunately, her TV-addict parents neither recognize nor appreciate their daughter’s genius. Neglected Matilda finds mentors in librarian Mrs. Phelps and teacher Miss Honey, a woman as sweet as her name implies. Miss Honey, Matilda, and other students are tormented by the child-hating headmistress Trunchbull. Trunchbull has also cheated orphaned niece Miss Honey out of her rightful inheritance, leaving the teacher in extreme poverty. Having practiced revenge techniques on her father, Matilda now applies her untapped mental powers to rid the school of Trunchbull and restore Miss Honey’s financial security. If the conclusion is a bit too rapid, the transitions between Matilda’s home and school life a bit choppy, and the writing style not as even as in some of Dahl’s earlier titles, young readers won’t mind. Dahl has written another fun and funny book with a child’s perspective on an adult world. As usual, Blake’s comical sketches are the perfect complement to the satirical humor. This many not be a teacher’s or principal’s first choice as a classroom read-aloud, but children will be waiting in line to read it.

Piehler, H. (1988). Matilda (Book Review). School Library Journal, 35(2), 143.

Library Uses:

Because this book contains so many scenes where “tricks” are played on adults, such as Matilda’s father and the Trunchbull, this is the perfect book to read aloud to a class of students. By reading aloud, students will be able to see each other’s reactions to these comical scenes and discuss the book together.

You Were Loved Before You Were Born

bunting

Title of Book: You Were Loved Before You Were Born by Eve Bunting

GoodReads Rating: 3.61

Summary:

This book discusses the many preparations that family (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, cousin), friends, and neighbors go through before the arrival of a firstborn child.

APA Reference of Book:

Bunting, E. (2008). You were loved before you were born. New York, NY: Scholastic.

My Impressions: 

This book is not particularly well-written in terms of writing style or illustrations. Moreover, the characters and setting are not developed in detail. However, I believe it is loved by women for many of the same reasons Love You Forever is loved by women. Mothers reading it to their children relate to it on an emotional level, especially if their child is still a baby. You Were Loved Before You Were Born by Eve Bunting is a prime example of what the authors of Children’s Literature, Briefly, mean when they say, “The positive feelings a reader has about a book are the same whether they come from a quality book or one of low literary merit” (Tunnell et al., 2016, p. 21). Thus, to a certain extent, what qualifies as a “good book” is subjective, based on the individual reader’s tastes and life experiences. Personally, I am expecting a baby right now, and although I could relate to the content of the book, I did not enjoy reading it because I did not find it to be well-written.

Professional Review:

PreS-K – A mother voices a familiar message to her new arrival: that relatives and neighbors had expressed their love for the baby in a variety of ways before the birth. Grandmother planted a rosebush, grandfather brought a rocking chair, an aunt painted a mural in the nursery. In Barbour’s stylized scenes, flowers, trees, and houses are depicted as bold shapes upon which a multitude of patterns have been painted. The decorative designs contrast with the background expanses of warm color in which dry brushstrokes provide texture. While the unspecified gender and Barbour’s choice not to alter the mother’s body during pregnancy make this story adaptable to a variety of situations, including adoption, it is questionable whether youngsters will really appreciate this title. The Cubist faces come across as rather stern, and the figures are static. The story lacks the humor of Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever (Firefly, 1995), the tension and cultural interest of Barbara M. Joosse’s Mama, Do You Love Me? (Chronicle, 1991), and the emotional range in Patricia McMahon and Conor Clarke McCarthy’s Just Add One Chinese Sister (Boyds Mills, 2005). This title’s greatest appeal may be to parents and grandparents.

Lukehart, W. (2008). You were loved before you were born. School Library Journal, 54(1), 82.

Library Uses:

In a public library, You Were Loved Before You Were Born, along with Love You Forever, could be added to a list of books recommended for new parents.