The numerous Brown family children were grouped into categories: "the Big Ones," "the Middling Ones," "the Little Ones," "the Littlest Ones," "the Tinies," and "the Baby." Because they were ever so naughty, nurses and governesses continued to quit their jobs and the children continued to wreak havoc. Mr. and Mrs. Brown were really in a pinch when Nurse Matilda finally arrived. She assures Mr. and Mrs. Brown that she will be able to teach the children the seven lessons they require: to go to bed when told, not to gobble, to do lessons, to get up when called, to close doors after them, to wear their best clothes when necessary, not to run away, and to use their manners. Nurse Matilda is a stout old woman, with a "nose like two potatoes," a round and wrinkly face, and "eyes like two little black boot buttons." She also has one huge front tooth sticking out over her lower lip. She tells the Browns that "when children don't want me, but do need me... I must stay." And when "they no longer need me, but do want me... I have to go." The children, of course, continue their naughty ways despite the arrival of Nurse Matilda. The lessons do get taught, in a magical "just desserts" kind of way. When Nurse Matilda catches the children in a misadventure, she bangs her big black stick and the children are stuck continuing the bad behavior long after it ceases to be fun. So, when Nurse Matilda asks the children to stop filling up nursery ink wells with jam, shampooing each other's hair with glue, feeding the dogs baby food in a baby bottle, and more, the children refuse. Bang goes the big black stick and the children are stuck doing these crazy things when all they want to do is stop and go to sleep. Andthis is how they learn their lessons, each and every one of them. Nurse Matilda's dreadful appearance is noted often; nevertheless, the children catch her becoming prettier and prettier as they lose their naughty ways. There are three separate books published in this one volume. Additionally, pages of color photos from the popular Nanny McPhee movie, based on these books, are included in the center of the book. The cover art for the book also shows various scenes and actors from the movie. Children should chuckle quite a bit while reading these collected tales of Nurse Matilda. The Brown children find some amazing ways to be naughty, not only at home, but at their great Aunt Adelaide's house, at the seashore, at a church service, and in a hospital. Any harm done is always undone by Nurse Matilda's magic stick, so no one gets hurt. Black-and-white illustrations are found in each chapter. 2005, Bloomsbury, Ages 9 to 12.
Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.