Dahl, Roald, and Kate Winslet. Matilda. New York: Penguin Audio, 2013. Print.
Audience: Ages 9-12, Grade 3-6
Summary: Matilda is an precocious, intelligent preschooler whose parents are self-centered and crass. They make Matilda’s life horrible until she discovers the joys of books and reading. When Matilda starts Kindergarten, she has a wonderfully sweet teacher named Mrs. Honey and a bully of a school principal Miss Trunchbull. Matilda enacts some sweet revenge on her horrid parents and The Trunchbull by using her amazing cleverness and some supernatural powers that she discovers along the way.
Strengths: The audio edition of Matilda was recorded in order to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of its publication. Award-winning actress Kate Winslet’s narration of this book is masterful. While she uses British accents, her pace is slow enough and her dictation careful enough that she is never difficult to understand. Her characterization of each person in the story is completely unique – the naivity of Matilda, the brash Mr. Wormwood, the ignorance of the Mrs. Wormwood, the sweetness of Miss Honey, and the brutality of Miss Trunchbull, as well as the other minor characters (her Hortensia is particularly delicious). There aren’t any special audio extras, but the listener won’t miss them as they are transported to Matilda’s world.
Weaknesses: This book has been challenged and banned in some places because of the perceived negativity. Some readers see the actions of the adults in Matilda’s life (her parents and The Trunchbull) as mental and physical abuse, and Matilda’s actions as vengeful.
Uses: Audiobooks can be used with ESOL students, learning disabled students, and struggling readers for support so that they can read the same material or similar material as their peers. They also provide an example of fluent reading and appropriate phrasing, intonation, and articulation, as well as practice for critical listening. Many teachers use these books in reading centers, book backpacks, and book clubs. Students can answer questions about key details in the text (CCSS ELA:SL.2 Grades K-6). For this book, the characters are sketched broadly and could be discussed (CCSS ELA:RL.3 Grades K-6). Dahl’s use of point of view (CCSS ELA:RL.6 Grades 3-6) and tone are both incredibly distinctive (CCSS ELA:RL.4 Grades 4-6).
· The Roald Dahl Audio Collection – Roald Dahl (five abridged Dahl stories told by the author)
· The Chronicles of Narnia Complete CD – C.S. Lewis (the classic novels on a 7 volume CD)
· The BFG - Roald Dahl (another of Dahl’s classic fantasies)
· The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (a Kansas girl goes to a magical world, another classic fantasy)
· Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren (Swedish story of a girl who lives alone and has adventures)
AudioFile Earphones Award
Other: Starred review in Booklist, School Library Journal