A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate