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Martha, No!

Posted on Aug 2, 2010

Edward Hardy & Deborah Allwright
(Egmont)

Another day, another nanny … Angelic-looking Martha May is a little bit on the mischievous side and is wearing them out on a daily basis. Even Mary Poppins would find it hard to cope! Today it’s Miss Harrington-Chive’s turn and she is convinced that she is the one to tame sweet Martha May. But Martha has other plans! From the park to the science museum, then onto the restaurant, the art gallery and finally the tea room and the playground Martha only does what she pleases and is driving her poor nanny to distraction. Will Martha ever make it home? And how will Miss Harrington-Chive ever survive another day?
The rhythmic text of this mischievous adventure is a pleasure to read aloud. My two children really enjoy this story, and love their “Martha, No!” (repeated throughout) as dramatic as possible … and I am only too happy to oblige!

The text is greatly enhanced by the illustrations which are absolutely gorgeous. They have a real 1950s American vintage feel to them, and so does the text, which is surprising in a way as both author and illustrator are British. I really liked the palette of colours Deborah Allwright used here, again which helps create the lovely vintage atmosphere. I really like her work, especially Don’t Read This Book, but we have also enjoyed The Night Pirates (my daughter and I are excited that we will be meeting Deborah at the Bath Kids Lit Fest in September). Don’t ask my why but I love the way she draws men’s noses (see the illustration on the right!)

The only niggle about this otherwise charming story is the ending. Most parents will be unable to quit their jobs or whatever they do during the day to look after their children when childcare arrangements do not work out and when Martha’s mum announces “Well, that’s it – no more nannies! We’ll just have to be how we were at the start – just my Martha and me”, I can’t help wondering whether some little readers could get upset by the fact that it is not really as easy as that.


Despite this, this is a great book. If you like roguish little heroines (à la Olivia), this is for you!

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