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Last updated Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Date of Publication: 1988
ISBN: 0670824399
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2009

Synopsis: Amazon.com Review Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she's knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she's a super-nerd and the teacher's pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda's world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there's the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. ("The") Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge. She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable--the big surprise comes when Matilda discovers a new, mysterious facet of her mental dexterity. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

Note to readers:
•  Hear and see this book read aloud on YouTube by several of our volunteers! The rest of the book can be heard at this YouTube video.
•  Vocabulary: adoration; lyrical; delve; enormously; enlightened; tremendous; formidable

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Before Questions:
•  Do you know any other books written by Roald Dahl? (James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
•  Looking at the cover, what do you think Matilda likes to do? (read books)
•  Do you think Matilda is smart? Why?
•  Have you ever seen the movie Matilda?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  After/During Questions
•  What hidden talents do you have that your parents don't know about?
•  Would your parents prefer you to read a book or watch TV? Why?
•  Is there someone you share your special talent with? (a librarian, teacher, coach, best friend, grandparent)
•  Do your parents try to teach you good things or bad things? What would you teach your children?
•  Why do you think this book would make a great movie? (the practical jokes Matilda plays; Matilda's special gifts)
•  How do you think this book will end?

Craft ideas:
•  Make flip books. Take a piece of paper and fold it in to 8 equal sections. Cut along the folded edges so you have 8 separate rectangles. Stack them together and staple one side to make a book. Pick a scene or character to draw in action. On each page, draw the same scene or character slowly moving through the motion. Then flip the pages quickly to see the action come to life! You can do another scene/action on the back side of the pages too. Materials to bring ahead: blank index cards to make the flip book (instead of cutting up paper).
•  Make a storyboard from the book. Explain to the kids that the way books are made into movies begins with the process of the storyboard - the words on paper need to be visualized into what you would see on a movie screen. Split up a piece of paper into four or six sections. Pick key scenes from the story to draw in each of the sections and write captions for each scene to tell the story. This craft may be done during the reading to help engage the kids in the story. Your group could also make a storyboard as a team where each child (or pair) draws a scene on a full sheet of paper. Then put each piece of paper up on the board in order and have the kids tell the story by describing what is going on in their picture.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!