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broodings from the burrow

July 7, 2010

once upon a challenge iv wrap up
posted by soe 1:52 am

once upon a time readalongIt’s time to summarize the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

In addition to what’s listed below, I read several books I originally thought would fit into this challenge but which, on reflection, did not. As such, I merely completed Quest the First to “read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time IV criteria.” The six books I read were:

While I liked all of the books I read, I’d have to say that the highlight was the first one I read, Savvy. I’d recommend it for anyone.

My other goal for the challenge was to re-read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I made it partway through the play within the early June time frame, but ultimately failed to finish before the Solstice.

As always, this was a fun read-along and one I’ll be doing again next spring.

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into the stacks: the collected tales of nurse matilda
posted by soe 1:37 am

once upon a time readalongThe Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda, by Christianna Brand

From the jacket: “Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty…”

My take: After the large and ever-growing brood of Brown children terrorize their nannies, tutors, nurses, governesses, and maids with their horrible behavior (although their mother believes them to be misunderstood angels), the help quits en masse, declaring that only Nurse Matilda could sort out those children. Every staffing agency in town agrees — there’s no one left to help, but Nurse Matilda.

And, oh! Nurse Matilda is quite a handful herself. Only able to work where she’s needed but not wanted, she’s dressed in dour clothing, is ugly with a nose like a potato and a snaggle-tooth, and carries a big black stick. And woe to those misbehaving when Nurse Matilda bangs her stick on the floor. The miscreant might find him- or herself unable to stop doing the same awful thing, no matter how much he or she might want to. Or if you were pretending to be sick, you might legitimately start to be ill and have to go into the hospital. Somehow, the fear of the fate that big black stick might force upon you might make you rethink your behavior, at least for a minute.

Slowly, the children go from willfully being as bad as can be (bordering on malevolent) to periodically misbehaving to eventually understanding how to avoid getting into trouble in the first place. And as they make this transition, it occurs to them that Nurse Matilda is looking less and less ugly…

This particular book included all three of the Nurse Matilda fairy tales originally published in the 1960s and ’70s, which provided the (loose) source material of the 2005 film Nanny McPhee.

While I liked the stories well enough, I did feel that putting them all together in one volume probably diminished their effect as all three are quite similar in both scope and execution. Cute enough to read through to the end, but I certainly wouldn’t do more than take it out of the library if you’re curious about it.

Pages: 300

This is one of the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

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