Parents' Guide to

Nanny McPhee: The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Tiresome tales of misbehaving kids.

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Is It Any Good?

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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.

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