Nanny McPhee: The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda

Common Sense Media says

Tiresome tales of misbehaving kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The kids misbehave constantly, and never seem to learn any better. Native Americans, as was the custom in 60s-era Britain, are referred to as "red Indians."

Violence & scariness

Lots of pratfalls and nasty pranks. The kids are sometimes whacked with various objects, to little effect.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that bad behavior is the theme and source of entertainment here, and no one learns their lesson. All the adults, except Nurse Matilda, are idiots and are the constant butt of the kid's pranks. Bad behavior by children is considered the norm.

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What's the story?

Printed to accompany the movie, Nanny McPhee, this edition is a compilation of the "Nurse Matilda" stories, upon which the movie was (very loosely) based. In one volume it contains the books Nurse Matilda, Nurse Matilda Goes to Town, and Nurse Matilda Goes to Hospital.

In the first book, Nurse Matilda comes to take care of, and teach some badly needed lessons to, the horribly naughty Brown brood, which she does with a magic cane that causes the children to go on repeating their current misbehavior until they are sick of it. In the second book, Nurse Matilda comes back to take care of, and teach some badly needed lessons to, the Brown brood, who have gone back to being horribly naughty. And in the third book ... well, you get the idea.

These same three books are also being published in one volume under a different title: Nurse Matilda: the Collected Tales.

Is it any good?


There's a reason this had gone out of print, until being resurrected by the related movie -- it wasn't very good. The Nurse Matilda stories are so unbelievably formulaic that even kids who get a giggle out of creative misbehavior may get as sick of it when it is endlessly repeated. The author deliberately makes the characters interchangeable so the reader never knows, or cares, who is who among the kids. Even Nurse Matilda has no personality -- she just grows prettier or uglier depending on the kids' behavior.

Just as the kids in this story respect no one, it seems the author doesn't either. There are only three types of characters: nasty children, oafish adults, and Nurse Matilda, the punisher, from whom the children learn nothing. Add wicked, selfish behavior played for laughs in with the xenophobia and mild racism characteristic of British children's books of the period and you get a book that may make your kids laugh -- but you'll wish it didn't.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why this collection was printed now. It had gone out of print -- why would a publisher put it back on shelves? How will the related Nanny McPhee movie encourage sales of this book? Families who have seen the movie may want to compare and contrast the two.

Book details

Author:Christianna Brand
Illustrator:Edward Ardizzone
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:March 12, 2006
Number of pages:382
Read aloud:7
Read alone:8

This review of Nanny McPhee: The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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