Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

Great babysitter, evil cousin

Jemima and her little brother Jakey are being bedeviled by their baby cousin, Zara. Their Aunt Sally claims that her "baby-waby" is "easy-breezy", but from the devastation that is wrought on their toys and other possessions, the children know that this is not the case. They hope that their babysitter (and former duchess!) Marge will be able to use her skills to tame the baby, but Zara proves challenging even for a seasoned veteran of child care. Marge does maintain that babies are basically pirates, and since Jakey loves anything piratical, this ruse works for a while, and Jemima even answers a pirate Code Brown (changing a dirty diaper). Since the weather is nice, Marge readies her charges for a trip to the local pool, and Zara has some trouble remembering to keep her swim diaper on. More antics ensure when Uncle Desmond is getting married to Annie Alligator (Jakey thinks her teeth look pointy) and Jemima serves as ring bearer. Of course, the rings go missing, and Zara is suspect, since she has been so difficult for so long. Even with an incident with paint on Annie's wedding gown, the ceremony goes off without too many hitches, and the children decide that dealing with Zara is another of Marge's skills.

Good Points
This beginning level, illustrated novel shows a particularly British view of child care, complete with very difficult children and a babysitter who would give Mary Poppins a bit of competition in the area of carpet bags. Marge has no magical powers, but she seems to understand what children like to do, and she is very attentive and active in her dealings with the children. It's good to see an adult interacting with children in a positive way, and not being distracted by a cell phone! Young readers will wish that their own parents would play pirates as much is Marge is willing to.

Zara seems to be particularly precocious for a child who can barely walk, but children who must suffer through a younger brother or sister who gets into their things and ruins them will understand Jemima and Jakey's pain. Hopefully, the baby in their own life will seem mild in comparison!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Nanny Piggins, Monster Nanny and Mr. Gedrick are all fictional care providers that have many things in common with Marge-- you can almost seeing the group of them hanging out, having a bit of tea, and talking about the antics to which their charges get!
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