Well, in classic Roald Dahl style, it features an underdog (pint-sized Matilda) with special qualities, nasty grown up characters and – the best bit – it sees the bullies in the book get their comeuppance.
Essentially, Matilda is a child prodigy. By the age of four she has read the entire children’s section of her library and has moved on to Hemmingway and Dickens. By five-and-a-half she can also work out sophisticated maths equations. Her friends love her, as do her teachers; but her life is far from picture-perfect.
Firstly, she has her parents to deal with; selfish and mean TV slobs with no interest in Matilda whatsoever. In fact, they describe her as “nothing more than a scab”. They don’t even notice Matilda’s intelligence – something that shoots them in the foot later when Matilda unleashes her clever pranks, gluing her father’s hat to his head and secretly bleaching his hair.
Then there’s the diabolical Mrs Trunchball. When it comes to her, Matilda uses her new-found power of telekinesis to really get her own back – using her mind to tip a glass of water containing a newt onto the head teacher from hell, much to the delight of the reader.
Not everyone’s a baddie in Matilda, though. The book also features the world’s sweetest teacher, Miss Honey, with whom Matilda quickly develops a strong bond.
Readers of all ages love to see justice being served; in this book, children get to live vicariously through Matilda’s pranks. Full of mischief and magic, children will adore witnessing the inspiring young heroine pit her courage, strength and wisdom against the spiteful grownups surrounding her and, eventually, coming out on top.
Children seem to fall in love with Matilda every time they read it, transfixed by the memorable characters – both good and evil. If, however, you want to capture their imagination once again with a magical and inspiring tale, take a look at the list of books we’ve put together – all of which we think are perfect for Matilda fans.
David Walliams has received many comparisons to Roald Dahl during his writing career and so his books are an obvious place to go if you enjoyed Matilda. Funny, anarchic and with kids as the heroes, they are the perfect follow on from Matilda.
Something strange has happened to the tooth fairy. Instead of money being left under children’s pillows once they’ve had a tooth fall out, kids are waking up to find all sorts of nasty creepy crawlies there instead. A spider, a dead slug, hundreds of earwigs. What or who could be behind it? The Demon Dentist will have your little one laughing from the very first page.
“A pleasure to read. A beguilingly funny, original and thought-provoking tale… hilarious” – Amanda Craig, The Times
“I absolutely love David Walliams’s books. In a few more years they will become classics” – Sue Townsend, author of Adrian Mole
A funny story that shows that things aren’t always what they seem; Gangsta Granny will get little one’s imaginations turning with all sorts of new possibilities. When Ben is sent to stay with his boring Grandma, he’s pretty sure he’s in for an endless cycle of Scrabble and cabbage soup. Little does Ben know, his grandma has some pretty exciting plans that might require Ben’s help. Namely – the theft of the Crown Jewels!
“David Walliams demonstrates amazingly that however young or old you are, the most extraordinary things can happen. And a dreary thing like plumbing can turn out to be the centre of a heist” – The Guardian
“The book has its thoughtful moments, with some interesting insights into parental expectations, the generation gap and the very special bond that can exist between grandparents and their grandchildren” – Kids-bookreview.com
Hilarious and heart warming, Mr Stink is a charming character that many children adore. When Chloe hears that Mr Stink might be driven out of town, she takes it upon herself to hide him in her garden shed. But although Mr Stink has now become Chloe’s big secret, she might find that he has a few secrets of his own. Walliams’ ability to create characters that are pure comedy shines through in his second book.
“This is a fun-filled book with lots of sausages; David Walliams will make your day!” – The Guardian
“This book is crazy, funny and wonderful, all at the same time!” – Rosie’s Real Reviews
Illustrated throughout this is the first book in the bestselling series of books about Mildred Hubble, a young witch, at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Mildred isn’t the best trainee by a long way and her misadventures have been loved by generations. If your little one is searching for a new lead character who is as likable and relatable as Matilda then you may have found her in Mildred.
“Hurray for Jill Murphy…little girls will love the antics of Mildred Hubble and her hopeless tabby cat” – The Independent
If you’re missing Matilda look no further than Pippi Longstocking for your next heroine. Individual, independent and with a totally original style, Pippi is a girl you’ll identify with and want to be. This edition of Astrid Lindgren’s beloved tale is illustrated by Lauren Child and the story and the pictures are a match made in heaven.
“The idea of a young girl living with no parents or adult supervision—and doing so quite happily—likely resonated with me. And even though Pippi doesn’t always effectively handle interactions with adults, her lack of fear probably helped me overcome my paralyzing shyness” – Endervidualism.com
“In an age where children are coddled and confined by scared parents, we all need Pippi as the ultimate imaginary friend to run along rooftops and beat up the bad guys” – The Telegraph
Lots of children may know Charlotte’s Web from the 2007 film, but the book is perfect for anyone who’s enjoyed Matilda and is looking for their next read. The story of a little girl called Fern who befriends a pig called Wilbur, and his friend Charlotte is really about friendship, but be warned; it will make you cry.
“This is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend. Unashamedly sentimental, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling” – Fantasy Book Review
Holly Webb is probably best known for her bestselling animal stories, but the Rose books have always been our favourites, with one foot in the classic fairy stories we grew up with, and one foot in modern fantasy. Rose leaves the orphanage for the house of Mr Fountain the alchemist. The house is full of magic and Rose begins to suspect that maybe she is too. Perfect for fans of Matilda, this is the first of a series of books you’ll love.
“With a smart, spunky heroine and an odd assortment of mysterious magic elements like mist monsters and talking cats, I would happily recommend Rose to those searching for a delightful combination of mystery and magic” – Popgoesthereader.com
One of the original winners of the Carnegie Medal Ballet Shoes is a magical book and ideal for those who’ve read Matilda. So many people cite Ballet Shoes as their favourite childhood book, ballet fans or not. This is a book every Matilda fan should read.
“Overall, a charmingly told tale of sisterhood, woven around the much-loved theme of dancing. Both characters are extremely well-portrayed, and their personalities shine through the whole book.” – The Guardian, Children’s Books review
A modern book with its heart firmly rooted in classic detective stories, this is the story of orphaned Laura who goes to live with her uncle in Cornwall hoping for just a bit of the excitement she finds in her favourite novels. And of course, she gets far more than she ever dreamt about. Laura is tough and brave, and a classic literary heroine you’ll love, plus there are more books in the series to enjoy.
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More from Roald Dahl
And of course, if your little one loves Matilda then what else would they want to read but more Roald Dahl! There are some truly fantastic characters for your children to discover, and if Matilda was their first introduction to one of the best children’s writers of all time then you should be very excited – there’s a whole range of books left to read together for the first time.
If your little one hasn’t read The Witches yet then you really need to get them a copy! A funny and adventurous story of a little boy who finds himself stuck in a hotel filled with the very creatures his grandmother has taught him to avoid – the witches. If your child loved the mishaps and adventure of Matilda then this story is bound to have them gripped too.
“This rollicking story of a heroic boy’s fight to save the children of England from the Grand High Witch of the World is a fast-moving, well-paced adventure that children will love” – School Library Journal
“What’s not to love about this book as child? There’s magic, there’s excitement, there’s fear and there are the wonderful illustrations provided by Quentin Blake to go with it” – Page Turner Books
Everyone knows that children are smarter than adults, and in this story Danny and his father William outsmart their greedy neighbour Mr Hazell There are some hilarious scenarios involving groggy pheasants and some witty plots that will have little ones giggling.
“It feels as if the book almost turns the pages for you and as I was reading it, I could see the pictures really clearly in my head” – The Guardian
“It’s great, even as an adult, to come to that at the end of the book (something I had completely forgotten was there) and be reminded of what I loved and admired in adults when I was a kid” – Giraffe Days
Just like Matilda, James doesn’t have the best family upbringing, but his luck changes when a magic potion spilled on a peach tree results in a peach the size of a house. Inside the peach James finds a secret room with a group of human-sized, talking invertebrates. The group embark on an adventure that is a just a little crazier than Matilda’s story but equally as captivating.
“James is a typical children’s story hero, coming up with imaginative solutions to various problems he and the insects face. Without him the insects would be lost” – Patheos.com
“James And The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is a fun, short adventure about an orphan who overcomes terrible circumstances with the help of magic and some bugs that actually are not scary. If you’ve got a small child in your life, I highly recommend you read this one to them” – Goodbooksandgoodwine.com
For more children’s books for primary school children, take a look at our website.
If you’ve found a book that you think is perfect for fans of Matilda then share you recommendation with us in the comments box below.