Mary listened to Matilda by Roald Dahl as a book on tape recently. I was mildly interested, since I liked the book when I was younger. The movie was good, too.
The book reminded me of The Twits, another book by Dahl. That first half of that book doesn't have much plot. It's just two mean people, playing mean pranks on each other for a long time. Matilda follows along that pathway. It's just her, playing a series of pranks on her parents. She makes them think the house is haunted, she dyes her dad's hair and she glues his hat to his head.
About halfway through, the book switches gears and Matilda goes to school. She meets a nice teacher, and she butts heads with a memorable villain named the Trunchbull.
Matilda develops telekinetic powers at this point, which I thought was amazing when I first read the book. I'd never heard of anything like that! Now that I'm older, I'm a bit more skeptical. WHY does she get telekinetic powers, all of a sudden? The last chapter of the book indicates it's because her brain's potential wasn't being used, but that sounds fishy to me. Miss Honey was giving her fifth-grade lessons (or at least, fifth-grade books), so her brain was more actively used and stimulated in school, compared to the first half of the book where she sat at home all day. You'd think the powers would have shown up then, instead of conveniently showing up right after she meets the main villain.