When I was growing up, she was my hero. I looked up to her, I wanted to be her, I thought about moving through the world like her. She was awesome. She was a character in a book who could move things in her mind. She was telepathic. I learned that word a good two to eleven years before I learned how to pronounce it correctly.
It was either her or the half-size giant that collected dreams and blew them into children’s bedrooms so they could have the most amazing vision as they slept. The friendly giant who combined nightmares like mixed drinks to tell messages and destroy his foes. He made a friend with a little girl who surprised him at his trade one night. Then he carried her in his ear. HIS EAR. He swiveled it up to sit like a bowl and carried her there back to his home, where he taught her about his different world.
I liked Sophie and her big giant of a friend; I read The BFG so often that my mother had to rebind the book. But my favorite girl in all of literature when I was growing up was Matilda.
Her life was so different than my own. She went to school when I was homeschooled. Her parents were dolts of the n-th degree while mine are some of the most intelligent folks I know. She had an idiot big brother and I have a brilliant little sister.
But I identified with her so well. She loved to read, as I do. She had a few shining examples of amazing teachers, as I do. She was creative, inventive, and a little devious. She didn’t let the bad things in her life affect her way of moving through the world. Even with a horrid household growing up and a cruel bully for an authority figure at school she still remained a thoughtful and considerate individual.
She was my hero. I loved all of Roald Dahl’s books as a child, but Matilda was my favorite.