Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

*Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales* by Christianna Brand, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone- young readers fantasy book review
Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales
by Christianna Brand, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone
Ages 9-12 300 pages Bloomsbury USA February 2005 Hardcover    

There are so many children in the Brown family that one can’t actually count them but only think of them in groups: the Big Ones, the Middling Ones, the Little Ones, the Littlest Ones, and so on. There’s also the Baby, with its nappy falling down around its chubby pink knees. The children are terribly, terribly naughty.

One day, all the nannies and governesses of the Brown family suddenly give notice, declaring that they can’t stand the children’s mischief any longer and are going away. Their parting suggestion is that the family is in need of Nurse Matilda.

The children’s overwhelmed parents had no idea where such a person was to be found, but - lo and behold! - a small, stout, incredibly ugly woman with eyes like black buttons and a nose like two potatoes appears at their door unbidden. Her most prominent feature is a large front tooth that “stuck out like a tombstone over her lower lip.” She carries a big black stick and wears a fierce expression on her wrinkled face. It is none other than Nurse Matilda, who has come to be a nanny to the exceedingly naughty Brown children.

Nurse Matilda announces that the children need to learn seven lessons: to go to bed when told, to not gobble their meals, to do their lessons as asked, to get up when called, to close doors after themselves, to dress nicely when needed, and to refrain from running away. When the children have learned all seven lessons, when they no longer need her but want her to stay all the same, then she will leave - but no sooner.

This collection of three stories - Nurse Matilda, Nurse Matilda Goes to Town, and Nurse Matilda Goes to Hospital - describes the amusing encounters of stern but good-hearted (and magical) Nurse Matilda and the unruly and boisterous Brown children. Christianna Brand’s writing is charming and droll in a quintessentially British way. The black-and-white drawings by Brand’s cousin and well-known illustrator Edward Ardizzone perfectly suit the tale.

The recent movie adaption of the books, Nanny McPhee starring Emma Thompson, has breathed new life into these beloved British books dating back to the 1960s. This collection is fairly lengthy - over 380 pages in the hardcover version that I reviewed. By the middle of the book, the plot became repetitive and the children’s mischief somewhat gratuitous. I found that while I had enjoyed the book, I preferred the movie.

Enjoy…but in small doses!

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Usha Reynolds/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (