MARGE IN CHARGE
by Isla Fisher, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans – Piccadilly Press, 2016
ages 4 to 12 years / emotional resilience, funny, imagination, chapter books
Babysitters are a childhood rite of passage, but few of us will ever have one like Marge!
In Marge in Charge, Jemima is a seven-year-old who tells us about her new babysitter.
The new babysitter, Marge, is a bit offbeat, but Jemima and her brother Jake love her.
At first she looks a lot like the quintessential, old lady, grandma-esque babysitter:
“She is wearing a little woolly hat and reading glasses. Her face looks serious too and I worry that she will be strict … She has a big round belly and skinny legs with knees as knobbly as twigs.”
But, as soon as Mum and Dad leave, Jake & Jemima discover that Marge is really quite extraordinary.
“…Marge pulls off her hat. Guess what’s underneath? Long colourful hair that falls halfway down her back! Green, blue, orange, res and yellow hair like a waterfall of colour.”
Marge has a unique approach to rules – she adds to them, massages them into something more palatable and twists and turns them around until a riotously good time is had by all.
She's all about fun. And that makes Jemima a bit nervous – Jemima is a rule follower. She worries that the kitchen is messy, she’s nervous about going to a birthday party, she frets about the mischief Marge could make when she comes to school for the day.
But Jemima loves Marge – life is full of excitement and surprise when Marge is around. She does hilarious things like accidentally using hair dye as a face mask.
And she fills a water pistol with apple juice. It’s the stuff of kid fantasy – a babysitter with wilder ideas than they could come up with themselves!
Marge in Charge is hilarious fun for early readers and for younger children to listen to. There are three quick stories in this first volume – they’re a great length to read aloud in one sitting of around half an hour - here's why you'll love them:
Marge is giggle-inducing, mildly shocking fun! There are all sorts of outlandish laugh-out-loud funnies, such as the glorious moment that a pancake falls on Marge’s head; she pours syrup on to it and the kids eat it up, right off the top of her head.
Marge and her antics do a great job of showing that it’s possible to be safe and secure and still be well and truly out of your comfort zone.
Jemima is constantly out of her comfort zone, but she loves Marge, relishes every moment and has a terrific time - all because she's embracing the very things that made her nervous. Things like the house becoming a disaster zone right before her parents were due home! (Jemima and Jake scurry around and clean it up and all is well.)
It’s a great example of embracing uncertainty and still valuing your own needs.
Marge isn’t constrained by rules. For some children that’s a really hard thing to come to terms with – some children simply love rules and look for a rule for every situation. That’s awesome when you want to keep to a strict bedtime routine, but not so great when it comes to standing up to authority or making individual decisions.
Marge in Charge is about breaking rules and still achieving the desired result. (Marge makes broccoli dessert and Jake ends up eating it without a fuss, which is most unusual.)