2 Apr 2014



SOURCE: A charity shop buy.

"Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty ....' 

So begins Nurse Matilda, the first of three books by the celebrated team of Christianna Brand and illustrator Edward Ardizzone about the unusual, no-nonsense nanny who uses magic to rain in the mischievous children in her charge - and changes their lives forever.
.... Inner front cover

FIRST SENTENCE {Nurse Matilda, Chapter 1}: Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS {Page 84 }: All children have aunts and most children have at least one really fearsome aunt or even great-aunt. The Brown children had this truly fearsome great-aunt, Great-Aunt Adelaide Stitch.

MY THOUGHTS: Comprising three books - 'Nurse Matilda', 'Nurse Matilda Goes To Town' and 'Nurse Matilda Goes To Hospital' - within this one edition. The stories form the basis of the Nanny McPhee films starring Emma Thompson. 

Written in the mid nineteen forties I think it fair to say that this is a quintessentially English novel about a middle class family with a brood, a very big brood, of the most unruly children who, having seen off several nurses and nannies, are desperately in need of Nurse Matilda who staying whilst children don't want her but need her goes when they want her but no longer need her.

Whilst book one, Nurse Matilda, was an enjoyable enough read, I'm afraid for me the other two stories fell flat. Involving the same family, albeit it with an increasingly large number of children (chapter one of book one named seven, chapter one of book three, twenty six) none of whom we ever really got to know as individual characters. Though the situations might have varied slightly the lessons learnt didn't which made for repetitive and all too familiar reading. And as for the illustrations. 'Pen and ink' drawings by Edward Ardizzone, I'm afraid these weren't much to write home about either. Much preferable to many children I'm sure would be the later published edition of the tales which contains a colour insert of scenes from the film.

Still, a charming enough if slightly old fashioned collection of stories that may well prove popular as a bedtime read for pre-teens. For myself, this was one of those rare cases in which I actually preferred the films to the book.



Cherie Reich said...

Thanks for the review, Tracy! It sounds like a cute collection, although it's a shame the other two books fell flat.

Kelly said...

I've seen bits and pieces of the film and wasn't impressed enough to want to see it in its entirety. Based on your review, I don't imagine I would enjoy the books much, either.

Literary Feline said...

It's always fun to read books like this, I think. It's too bad the second two books were disappointing.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I love some of these slightly quirky books, written back in the 1940s and 1950s. Their tone, language and precise style of writing is great.

Some of the detective books on my TBR shelves, were written back in the 1970s and 1980s and I have to keep reminding myself that things have moved on since then, in evidence gathering and crime solving techniques. When it comes to a review, I have to remember to treat each book for its own merits and writing style appropriate to the times.

As we have no family of our own, we are very close to our two nieces and I can only hope that they don't perceive me as the fearsome aunt!!!

Hope that the next book you have lined up, is more to your liking.


Betty Manousos said...

hi tracy,
thanks for your great review.
i think i'd have to pass on this collection-good story but obviously not true.

good evening my friend!
big hugs

Shooting Stars Mag said...

i didn't realize Nanny McPhee was based on a book! Interesting.

Gina R said...

Wow. I didn't realize the movies were inspired by books! Even with the second ones falling flat, I'm game to check them out. Thanks for the share! ^-^

Naida said...

I didn't know Nanny McPhee was based on books either. The first one sounds good.

Suko said...


Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I'll keep an eye out for the film versions.

Claudine G. said...

I watched Nanny McPhee and knew it was based on this series, which I've heard about but not read yet. But it would've been one I would have enjoyed in childhood. I loved stories about the English lifestyle - children in boarding schools, having a nanny or governess, and there were always lots of tea breaks!

(Tracy, thank you for asking about the paper copy of my upcoming novel! I understand you read and review prints only. My ebook might go into print much later ... perhaps on a book anniversary, and I'll be sure to send you a copy when it does then.:))

So many books, so little time said...

Aw shame the others fell short but still sounds worth checking out. Thanks for sharing.

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

Thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard of the books, but I have heard of the movie. I am sorry each of the stories didn't meet your expectations, but I am glad that one of them was great! :)