Thursday, November 10, 2005

waltzing through 'matilda'

If I needed any more proof that Evangeline was going to be as big a reading geek as her father, I have it now.

I checked her out a copy of Roald Dahl's book "Matilda" from the library about three weeks ago. After some initial foot-dragging with the opening chapters that required her parents to read the book to her at bedtime and once or twice during the day, the reading book finally bit and Evangeline finished the entire book last night, reading 120 pages in a single sitting. She literally stopped reading only once -- just long enough to go to the bathroom. (Given time, I don't doubt she'll learn to take the book into the bathroom with her so her reading enjoyment is not interrupted at all.)

If you've never read "Matilda" -- I had never heard of it until two months ago -- it's the story of a child prodigy who teaches herself to read before she's a year old and has that Dahlesque quality of triumphing over the stupid and mean adults in her life, including her parents and the headmistress at her school. The teacher, Miss Honey, is as sweet as her name, and Matilda ends up leading her to victory over her own bitter circumstances before winning the proverbial chocolate factory.

Evangeline really seems to go for Roald Dahl's books, which is fortunate, since she got about four of them for her birthday. She and I read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the end of the summer, and she couldn't put that down either, once we got past the initial hump of establishing the characters and setting up the plot. That seems to be all she needs with Dahl, actually -- just that initial activation energy from somebody else's reading to sink her teeth into the story, and then she's set.

It took her longer to get into "The Hobbit," when we read the graphic novel adaptation over the past few weeks. She initially started out on her own with a fair degree of enthusiasm, but then she petered out around Rivendell. I had to read her the rest of the book, with her looking at the pictures to see who was talking, but by the time we got to old Smaug, she hated it when I put the book down for the night. I figure we'll probably read the real book in about four or five years.

The new book we're working on is "Freedom Train," a biography of Harriet Tubman, and she's rooting something fierce for Harriet to make her run for freedom. After that, we have library books from the children's room about Joan of Arc, Madam Curie and Jane Goodall, just to continue her homeschooling.

And of course we still have those other four books by Roald Dahl.

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