Books(s) of the Week – Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand

We found these little treasures on a book hunting trip today. Actually, Craig found them, the scoundrel. I was clutching a rather large haul of children’s books and feeling pleased with myself when Craig appeared with these two tiny books.

They were well hidden. These books measure a pocket-sized 10×16 cm, and have beautiful gilt-embossed covers, decorated by one of my favourite illustrators Edward Ardizzone. I have never seen the original format before, only later paperbacks and re-issues so I was very excited to have finally found one (or two)

Christianna Brand, a British crime author, wrote three books in the Nurse Matilda series, the first Nurse Matilda in 1964, Nurse Matilda Goes to Town in 1967 and Nurse Matilda Goes to Hospital in 1974. I’m familiar with the series and the movie adaptations (Nanny McPhee by Emma Thompson, a favourite of mine)  But today I found out that Edward Ardizzone and Christianna Brand were cousins, as shown in the adorable childhood portraits on the back flap of the dust-jacket.

The cousins worked together on the books based on stories told to them by their Grandfather. I can just imagine slipping one in my pocket to take to school with me as I’m sure many children did. These two books are both almost 40 years old and beautifully bound, with no wear to the gilt, the pages haven’t aged at all and this is surprising as they’ve been well-read, if the worn-out ribbon markers are anything to go by.

Edward Ardizzone, of course, has illustrated many children’s books. They’re beautifully decorated with little black and white illustrations throughout,  so I’ll leave you with some of them to enjoy while I go and get started on the first book.

4 thoughts on “Books(s) of the Week – Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand”

  1. Nurse Matilda does have one of the best opening lines ever, “Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty.”

  2. That’s an excellent opening line. I’m definitely going to have to read it tonight.

  3. Oh they’re beautiful. Very funny too, I’m going to buy myself the omnibus, they have one with the original Ardizzone illustrations.

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