So yesterday i started my third book, Matilda by Roald Dahl. We all know the film but what do we know about Roald Dahl himself.
Roald Dahl was born on the 13th September 1916 in Llanduff, Wales. He was the only child from a second marriage. His parents Harrald and Sofie were Norwegian, his father and his sister dying when he was only 3 years old, leaving his mother to bring up the other four children on her own.
The character of the grandmother in The Witches is based on his mother and is a tribute to her. His mother encouraged all the children to read and often told them norwegian fairy stories. In Boy he talks about his father during the war years. When he was a child Roald Dahl wrote a secret diary which he would hide in a tin box and tie to a high branch of a conker tree where his sisters couldn't get it and where he used to climb up to, to get it, then hide it safely again.
His first piece of writing was published in 1942 whilst he was living in Washington, USA. He was invited by C S Forrester the author of Captain Hornblower to write a piece which was later published in the Saturday Evening Post, he was paid $900 for it and was entitled 'Shot Down Over Libya.'
His first book to be pubished was in 1943 and was titled The Gremlins, mysterious creatures that effect aeroplane engines, can't say i've read it. His first 15 years was spent writing for adults and many of his short stories were televised as The Tales of the Unexpected and were a huge success.
His first children's book was James and the Giant Peach published in the USA 1961 and in 1967 in the UK. Then followed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, (USA 1964, UK 1967). He then went on to write The BFG, Danny the Champion of the World, The Twits, The Witches, Boy, Going Solo and his penultimate book Matilda.
Roald Dahl died on the 23rd November 1990 aged 74. He was working to the end writing on The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, My Year and The Roald Dahl Cookbook.
So why Matilda? It is one of my favourites. It's that image of Mara Wilson when she was just a little girl getting her own back on the grown ups that thought they knew better then her. She shows that all children have this innate ability to learn and with just a little encouragement first from the librarian Mrs Phelps and then from Miss Honey she realises that she can continue to do what she loves, learn. There is also that lovely image in my head from the film when she finally realises she can control objects with her mind and sends the pack of cards flying around her, that's the bit i like best.
Not there yet in my reading, although she had realised that she can fight back against her disinterested parents, she finds super glue as its uses and so does her mother's peroxide hair dye and next door's parrot. It has to be a winner from the start.