A sweet disposition combined with a penchant for mass destruction drives this sweet if mildly flawed tale of a nanny and her overly enthusiastic young charge.
Despite the girl's mother’s warnings, Martha May’s latest nanny, Miss Harrington-Chive, is sure that the two will get along swimmingly. Instead, the older woman quickly learns that to take your eyes off of Martha for more than two seconds is to invite catastrophe. The story is regularly punctuated by the titular cries of “Martha, No!” as the child scales dino skeletons, digs tunnels and, ultimately, flies away with a clump of balloons—back into her mother’s waiting arms. Martha’s saving grace is that her chaos is inspired less by a desire to be naughty and more out of honest curiosity about the world around her. Allwright is conscious of this fact from the get-go, her Martha charming in her innocence rather than her destruction. The art is a large percentage of the fun, encompassing everything from dramatic teacup balancing to brass-band hijinks. Everything works quite beautifully until the ending, which resolves by indicating that mothers of nannied children apparently hand them off to strangers on a whim rather than a necessity.
Still, a delicious tone and the perfect illustrator are sure to make this a beloved story in many a household (odd ending or no). (Picture book. 4-8)