SALT LAKE CITY — Children’s book author Roald Dahl first introduced audiences to Matilda — an incredibly intelligent young girl whose talents are underappreciated by her clueless parents and bully of a school principal — in 1988, according to roalddahl.com.
Local audiences can be immersed in the story of “Matilda” in multiple ways this month as the Salt Lake City Public Library System partners with Broadway at the Eccles to honor Dahl’s impact on children’s literature and celebrate the Utah premiere of “Matilda the Musical” at Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater on Feb. 21.
“Children really relate to (Dahl’s) themes of child empowerment and also the magical elements that he included in all of his books,” Liesl Jacobson, the city library’s children’s services coordinator, said in an interview with the Deseret News.
According to Jacobson, the Broadway at the Eccles team approached library staff last year with the idea to promote Dahl’s books as the Broadway musical came into town.
“(The people at Broadway at the Eccles) wanted a chance to get involved with community organizations,” Jacobson said. “(They) have such a love for Roald Dahl and ‘Matilda’ themselves that they thought it was a natural way for us to partner.”
Through Feb. 18, all city library locations are participating in the Read Roald Dahl program to encourage young readers to crack open one of Dahl’s books. Each of the library’s eight branches has a different button to give away related to one of Dahl’s titles, covering well-known stories from “The Witches” and “The BFG” to “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” According to information from the library, children who read a Dahl book can visit any library location to redeem a pin, and readers who collect all eight buttons will receive a special prize from Broadway at the Eccles.
“We’ve had great feedback from our families here,” said Lisa Grant, children’s librarian at the Sprague Branch. “I think Roald Dahl is so special because a lot of our parents now were reading Roald Dahl when they were kids and now they’re bringing their kids in, so that’s really neat to see a couple generations that are just crazy for his books.”
In addition to the continuing Read Roald Dahl program, the Matilda Extravaganza will take place Saturday, Feb. 18, from 2-5 p.m. at the Main Library, located at 210 E. 400 South. The event will include activities and games as well as an interactive screening of “Matilda” where attendees will be given a bag of props to use while librarians guide them through certain actions during the film.
“There’s something for everyone at the Matilda Extravaganza,” Jacobson said. “There are a variety of activities, whether you enjoy drawing or doing something more physical.”
Everyone who attends the Matilda Extravaganza can draw their favorite Dahl character and have their drawing signed by the cast of “Matilda the Musical,” and the first 50 children who arrive at the library will receive a free “Matilda” shirt, according to information from the library.
“Anything that we can do that promotes literacy and getting kids and their grown-ups into the library and into a book is why we do (programs like this),” Grant said. “If they don’t know Roald Dahl or if they haven’t read all of his books, make a point to come in and check some stuff out because he’s fantastic.”
In addition to the Matilda Extravaganza at the Main Library, the Glendale Branch, located at 1375 S. Concord, is also offering additional events to promote the Read Roald Dahl program. The branch will host a screening of “Matilda” Friday, Feb. 17, 4-5:30 p.m.; a “Matilda” read-a-thon Wednesday, Feb. 22, 4-6 p.m.; and a Decorate Ms. Trunchbull’s Cake activity Friday, Feb. 24, 4-5 p.m.
For additional information about the Dahl-related programming at any of the library locations, visit slcpl.org.
If you go …
What: Salt Lake Public Library's Matilda Extravaganza
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 2-5 p.m.
Where: Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City
How much: Free