A nanny—Mary Poppins’ acidic cousin?—outwits a spoiled fusspot using reverse psychology.
On the title page, a maid kneels, scrubbing at a dark line vandalized onto wallpaper. Turn the page and find a girl lengthening the line with her pencil as she roller skates along. She looks back toward the maid wickedly. A passel of servants at her mercy, Minerva von Vyle brings her pink pony indoors and graffitis a punk hairdo and bikini onto her father’s military portrait. Beef Wellington is thrown: “Now bring me a plateful of candy instead… / and don’t even think about mentioning bed!” “[F]ifty-two nannies in fifty-two weeks” depart; the 53rd shrewdly crowns Minerva “the Unruly Queen.” Will Minerva’s castle have a fancy throne? Nope, she’ll rule over “a dark distant place known as Petulant Peak,” which is beset by beasties and where, worst of all, “[n]obody’s going to care anymore” about her. Cowed, Minerva runs to the bathtub. Scrubbed and meekly abed, she’s permitted to decline the Unruly crown—though nanny’s final threat is far from comforting. Rollicking verse, stumbling only occasionally, lends a playful air to the otherwise foreboding mood. In pen and ink, Redmond gives her stylized, exaggerated figures barbs and sharp edges everywhere. Tertiary, unsaturated green and purple watercolors balance out the busy pages.
For readers in the mood for a little menace. (Picture book. 4-6)