Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fictional Food Adventure: Reading Roald Dahl's Matilda

Reading Matilda has been a joy. I'm glad this was on the list along with Danny Champion of the World, because reading the two of them has taught me that Roald Dahl had a lot of heart and fun to give. I'd always had reservations about reading his stories; as a child the little I heard about his stories didn't really make me want to read them. I think what stood out was the griminess, the gruesomeness, the vengefulness and nastiness. I assumed that even as an adult I wouldn't be keen, but I realise there is perhaps a bit of Roald Dahl for everyone. I now know that there are several very special Dahl stories just for me; Danny, The BFG and Matilda.

I loved the development of the relationship between little Matilda and her sweet teacher, Miss Honey. There was a real sense of redemption

I thought a lot of my dear sister-in-law as I read Matilda, knowing how much my brother's wife adores this book. She lives Matilda, and it's a constant friend to her. She has lost count of the times she's read it. I'll definitely be getting a copy for my own shelves and will enjoy re-reading it, especially the scenes with the library books.

I have a better appreciation of Roald Dahl, with reservations. However great his storytelling is, there are some stories I just won't enjoy.

The recipe from Matilda is of course the famous chocolate cake that the grim Miss Trunchbull forced Bruce Bogtrottter to eat in front of the whole school, and you can read about my baking of this monstosity here:

Reading Matilda also happened to coincide with Dahlicious Dress Up Day, and I found out quite by accident that one of our local primary schools was taking part, asking all their pupils to dress up as a Roald Dahl character. I couldn't waste the opportunity to have a bit of bookish fun at the library, and so we invited the school to bring a couple of classes for a visit to the library that day. We offered them the chance to come and listen to some Roald Dahl stories, do some crafts and EAT SOME CAKE! It was just fantastic. I really don't do dressing up, and I'm not a performer, BUT I love sharing stories and enthusiasm for books. So I found a plain blue dress in a charity shop, bought some white frilly ankle socks and a bit of red ribbon, and read to the kids from Matilda. There were several other very charming Matildas listening, as well as a dazzling Willy Wonka, some Oompa Lumpas, a very dashing Fantastic Mr Fox and even a couple of Mike Teevees. They loved hearing about Bruce Bogtrotter eating the enormous cake, and couldn't wait to eat the chocolate cake we had promised, courtesy of Bev in our Cafe. We had also read the intro to The Twits, hearing the details about Mr Twit's sickeningly mucky beard, and then making our own. I game them a template for a dark brown beard and moustache with they covered in scraps of tin foil sardine tails, old cheese (real for the brave and paper for the faint-hearted, and even real cornflakes. They did a grand job and all looked disgusting in their beards. It was lovely chatting with them all about books and seeing them happily munching on the cake. I had a thoroughly good time myself, and think it was probably the most fun I've had in the library so far. I have now read that cake section of the book and know it pretty well by now! "You can do it Brucie!"

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