Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nurse Matilda

Christianna Brand
illustrated by Edward Ardizzone 2005

If you've ever seen the movie "Nanny McPhee" these are the stories, written in the 1960's that the movie was based on.  Mr. and Mrs. Brown have a large family.  So many children in fact, that they are never all completely named in the stories.  And they're terribly naughty!  After going through dozens of nurses and governesses and maids, the Browns are at their wits' end.  Everyone keeps telling them that they need "Nurse Matilda", a magical sort of character much like Mary Poppins but with a mischeivious streak.  She agrees to teach the children 7 lessons, "To go to bed when they're told," she said on the first step.  "Not to gobble," she said on the second step.  "To do their lessons," she said on the third step.  "To get up when they're called," she said on the fourth step.  "To close doors after them, to wear their best clothes when they have to; and not to run away," she said on the fifth, sixth and seventh steps.

She's described as rather ugly with a nose like two potatoes and a big front tooth that sticks out like a "tombstone".  But she endears herself to the children, and each time they learn a lesson it seems like she is less unattractive and has a beautiful golden glow.  And of course, the deal she has with the family is that "When you didn't need me- but you did want me:  then I must leave you."

Full of funny British humor and the amusing hijinks of naughty children (which Charlotte always finds amusing!), this was a great read.  I particularly love how the Brown parents are never convinced that their children are truly naughty.

Mrs. Brown was very sweet, but she really was rather foolish about her darling children and never believed that they could possibly be naughty.

Even though they were doing things like:

Francesca had filled the Tiny Baby's bottle with baby-food and was feeding the dogs with it.  
Little Quentin had drawn flowers all up the walls and was watering them from the big, brown, nursery teapot.
Antony was filling up the nursery ink-wells with runny red jam.
Nicolas had collected all the Little Ones' dolls and was lining them up for execution.
Sophie was shampooing Henrietta's hair with glue.
All the other children were doing simply dreadful things too.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun read, but so did Mary Poppins, which I read this summer and did not like at all. Thoughts on how they compare?