Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2016 Contenders: Nanny X Returns, by Madelyn Rosenberg

Ali, Jake, Eliza, and the rest of the gang from last year's Nanny X are back for another adventure. This time, a criminal known only as The Angler has insisted that a large sculpture of a fish be placed on the White House lawn. If this isn't done, "the nation's greatest treasures" could be in danger. The Nanny Action Patrol (N.A.P.) has been assigned to the case, and Nanny X (and her diaper bag full of secret devices) must stop The Angler, with the help of her young charges and their other friends.

Much like its predecessor, Nanny X Returns is fast-paced and very funny. One of my favorite things about it is its grasp of the Washington D.C. area; Madelyn Rosenberg lives in Arlington, Virginia, and it's clear that she knows the region inside and out. Through touches as small as what exhibits are on specific floors of the D.C. museums, the setting truly comes alive on each page.

I'm not entirely sure that some of the thematic elements are as neatly wrapped up as I'd like. Some of them, such as the incipient romantic feelings between Ali and her friend Stinky, may well be points Rosenberg is holding in reserve for another book. Others, I wished had been returned to in the last few pages -- Ali's worries about whether the N.A.P. has its doubts about Nanny X, as well as her desire to solve the mystery first, come into play repeatedly during the book, but sort of fizzle out at the end.

These questions, however, didn't much affect my enjoyment of the book. I was delighted to return to the world of Nanny X and her crew, and I do hope this isn't the last visit I'll get to pay there. I also hope this particular series finds its way into the hands of the many children that I firmly believe will enjoy it.

As for the Newbery, I highly doubt Nanny X Returns will appear there -- it's popular, not literary, and it's just not the kind of book to which the committees are sympathetic. I'm optimistic, however, that it will land on the shelves of many libraries, where the children who love quick-reading humor will be able to find it.

Publication in October through Holiday House

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