'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 9 October 2010

Review: Martha, No!

Just looking at the cover of this book is almost enough. The colour, the movement, the adorable charatacers and illustrative style.. it's what picture book dreams are made.

I could hardly wait to dive into this beautiful new book about a little girl who gets a new Nanny, much to the worry of Mum who is not so sure 'angelic' little Martha can hold onto yet another one - she's already been through ten this year!

As the new Nanny takes our precocious little heroine on her first outing, to a museum, a pizza parlour, the gallery, a park - we soon learn our Martha is not a brat but just a brave little soul who just loves to scale T-Rexes, balance 400 teacups on a single tray and dig herself a tunnel with a little spade.

 Of course, Nanny is beside herself with worry and can't help but shout 'Martha, No!' each time the little tot tweaks at the edges of disaster. But somehow Martha manages to skirt around those edges, until she finds a little piece of string and upon a warm gust of wind, is taken skyward on a clutch of helium balloons.

The scene where Martha's balloons are popped by birds is priceless. As the little one tumbles down from the sky - where will she land? Right where she is meant to, of course. And what of the Nanny? Let's just say it's Mummy's turn now - with the most delightful and precious ending.

This is a beautiful book with an imaginative and simply gorgeous storyline, and the stunning illustrations are whimsical and retro - bringing delight to adults and kids alike.

My only criticism is the lack of cadence with the rhyming text. I found myself consistently stumbling over the rhymes, which is such a shame, as the wordage is beautiful and I truly understand where the author was coming from, rhyme-wise (albeit ambitiously). Nevertheless, the text rhythm fails frequently.

Once the reader gets to know the text, upon repeat readings, I'm sure it would be much easier to lollop through this book with greater linguistic freedom, but upon first, and even second reading, I must admit it was a struggle. On every 'Martha No!' page, I ended up adding my own 'no' to the beginning of the phrase, just so I could garner some rhythmic satisfaction - 'No, Martha, No!'.

Having said that, I do adore this book and I'm determined to spend the time getting into its rhythm. Its characters are luscious, its messaging heart-felt, and the illustrations are something I need to see more of. Now, Deborah, now!

Title: Martha, No!
Author: Edward Hardy
Illustrator: Deborah Allwright 
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont, A$16.95RRP
Publication Date: 02/10/10
ISBN: 9781405249119
Type: Picture Book

This book is available online