Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales
1964/1967/1974 – KidLit
The Story:Mr. and Mrs. Brown have a lot of children, all incredibly naughty. They continually scare away their nurses and maids and tutors with their bad behavior, but that changes when they encounter Nurse Matilda. Armed with steadfast patience and a thick black walking stick, Nurse Matilda aims to change their behavior habits through love and a series of unconventional responses to their antics. For example, when the children pretend to be sick in order to avoid getting out of bed, one thump of her walking stick against the floor and the children find themselves suffering from an outbreak of Measles. Or if they decide to run away, they find themselves running throughout the village without being able to stop. The lessons typically end when the children use their newly learned manners to ask for things to return to normal.
The Opening Line:Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty.
What I Loved:The humor. This collection was written by a British author, and it’s obvious. There were times when I found myself laughing out loud at the absurdity of the situation. Any child would come away from this book with a host of new ideas for prank wars. Nurse Matilda’s unorthodox solutions to the children’s antics were unique and fun, and I couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with next. And the characters themselves were pretty hilarious. There was a plethora of character descriptions that instantly influenced my affections or dislikes for those characters.
What I Didn’t Love: All three Nurse Matilda books are collected in the volume I read. Typically, that’s a great thing, but it began to feel really repetitive. For example, in every single book, the kids wanted to run away and were forced to run all day. The characters performed the same actions, and there wasn’t a ton of unique new content in the second and third books. By the third book, I was really skimming more than fully immersing myself in the story.
Final Thoughts:Nurse Matilda was the basis for the two Nanny McPhee movies, of which I have only watched the first. From what I remember, the movie was extremely true to the book, so it was familiar to me going in. I was immediately taken by the humor and ease of reading, but it didn’t really draw me in or make me invest in the characters or story. Also, the repetitiveness got old pretty quickly. I would definitely recommend the original book, especially for reluctant readers or kids who love prank wars, but if you want to read the rest of the series, I would space them out a little bit so you don’t burn out.