Matilda is the wonderfully imaginative story of the life of a gifted young girl. It is an entertaining book for both kids and adults. Through Matilda every child can imagine what it would be like to play pranks on mean adults. Matilda lives with her parents and older brother in England. The Wormwoods are very selfish people and care nothing for her. Mr. Wormwood is a crooked car salesman that finds pleasure in constantly putting Matilda down. Mrs Wormwood spends every afternoon playing bingo, leaving her four year daughter at home to fend for herself. From a very young age it is obvious that Matilda is highly intelligent, at the age of three she teaches herself to read by looking at her parents’ magazines. Since there are no books at her home Matilda decides to go to the public library and is befriended by a kind librarian, Mrs. Phelps. The library and stories themselves become an escape for Matilda from her sad life. To further make her life more tolerable Matilda decides to fight back when her father is particularly mean or condescending. Matilda is able to covertly trick her parents on several occasions, including an incident where her father’s hair is ruined by peroxide.
At the age of five Matilda starts school at Crunchem Hall Primary. It is here that Matilda is able to begin to develop her astonishing intellectual abilities with the help of her kind teacher Miss Honey. The very first day of class Miss Honey recognizes Matilda’s potential and vows to help the small girl in any way she can. Academically Matilda is very advanced, so as the other children learn their lessons Matilda reads textbooks used by eleven year olds. While making new friends and finding a very supportive teacher has really improved Matilda’s life, there is one new addition that could ruin it, the Trunchbull. The headmistress of Crunchem Hall is any child’s worst nightmare. Miss Trunchbull is a very solid, athletic woman with a bellowing voice whose goal in life appears to be to terrify and belittle children. The very first week of school Matilda witnesses the Trunchbull pick up a small girl by her pig tails and throw her across the schoolyard. An older girls tell Matilda and one of her friends, Lavender, about other horrifying incidents and about the dreaded "Chokey". It is a closet in the Trunchbull's office that has glass and nails sticking out of its inner walls and doors. When a child is inside they must stand perfectly straight to avoid being cut.
After witnessing the many acts of this cruel adult, Matilda decides to tell her friend Lavender about her the actions of her parents and her own retaliation. Inspired by Matilda’s story Lavender decides to punish the Trunchbull herself. The headmistress visits all of the classrooms at Crunchem Hall each week to teach a lesson. During these times a student is required to fetch a jug of water for her.
In Miss Honey’s class Lavender volunteered for the job and decided to put a surprise in with the water, a slimy newt. The class was delighted by the Trunchbull’s reaction but unfortunately for Matilda, she is accused of the prank. As Matilda becomes angrier and angrier about being wrongfully blamed, she discovers a hidden talent, that she can move objects with her mind. Later she tells a very skeptical Miss Honey what she has done. After a demonstration of her ability Miss Honey invites Matilda back to her cottage to discover the full extent of the girl’s gift. It is at the small cottage that Matilda learns about Miss Honey’s tragic childhood.
Miss Honey’s mother died when she was only five years old and a cruel aunt came to look after her. Her father died shortly thereafter, under very suspicious circumstances regarding the aunt’s involvement. The father’s estate was left to Miss Honey when she came of age, but his will mysteriously disappeared and Aunt Agatha kept everything. Matilda learned that the aunt was none other than the Trunchbull. Aunt Agatha Trunchbull also took most of Miss Honey’s current paycheck by claimming that she owed her for clothing and food bought over the years. Matilda decided to help Miss Honey get back what was rightfully hers. She concocted a plan to use her new talent to scare the Trunchbull into submission. When the Trunchbull visited Miss Honey’s class Matilda made a free floating piece of chalk write several statements on the board, the first identifying that Miss Honey’s father is the one writing. It wrote that Agatha had to give back everything that belongs to his daughter or that he will come after her. The Trunchbull becomes terrified and leaves the school never to be heard from again. A few days later a solicitor calls Miss Honey to say that her father’s will has been found and that all his estate belongs to her. Now that everything has turned out well for Miss Honey, something awful occurs. Matilda’s family must leave town because government officials are investigating Mr. Wormwood’s fraudulent business practices. Not wanting to lose this wonderful little girl in her life, Miss Honey asks the Wormwoods if she could look after Matilda. The Wormwoods don’t care one way or another so Matilda goes to live with Miss Honey and together they live happily ever after.