Book Review and #Giveaway: A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford

Friday, April 12, 2013 Posted by Dina N

Book Description
Brenda Ashford is the quintessential British nanny. Prim and proper, gentle and kind, she seems to have stepped straight out of Mary Poppins. For more than six decades Nanny Brenda swaddled, diapered, dressed, played with, sang to, cooked for, and looked after more than one hundred children. From the pampered sons and daughters of lords ensconced in their grand estates to the children of tough war evacuees in London’s East End, Brenda has taught countless little ones to be happy, healthy, and thoroughly well bred. In this delightful memoir, Brenda shares her endearing, amusing, and sometimes downright bizarre experiences turning generations of children into successful adults.

From the moment Brenda first held her baby brother David she was hooked. She became a second mother to him, changing his nappies, reading him stories, and giving him all the love her warm heart contained. Knowing a career caring for children was her calling in life, Brenda attended London’s prestigious Norland College, famous for producing top-notch nannies. It was a sign of privilege and good taste for the children of the well-to-do to be seen being pushed in their Silver Cross prams by Norland nannies, who were recognizable by their crisp, starched black uniforms with white bib collars, and their flowing black capes lined with red silk. And what skills were these trainees tested on daily? Lullaby singing, storytelling, pram shining, bed making, all forms of sewing, cooking simple meals, and dispensing first aid—including knowing the best way to help the medicine go down.

In A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda recalls her years at Norland and her experiences during the war (after all, even if bombs are dropping, there’s no reason to let standards slip), and recounts in lovely detail a life devoted to the care of other people’s children.

Sprinkled throughout with pearls of wisdom (you can never give children too much love, and you should learn how to sew a button, for goodness’ sake), this delightful memoir from Britain’s oldest living nanny is practically perfect in every way.

Pearls of Wisdom from Brenda Ashford
“I had puzzled many times over the ingredients for a perfect recipe for a happy home. Throw in some stability, a dash of routine and respect. Sprinkle some fun and imaginative games and stir well. But the most vital ingredient is the mother. The mother is truly the heart and soul of a family.”

“As for fussy eaters? I don’t stand for it. I have taken a hard line on this topic. This is a home, not a restaurant and you will jolly well try it before you turn your nose up at it.”

“If a child has sufficient breakfast, lunch and dinner they shouldn't need a snack. I don’t really like it today when I see children being wheeling along in a pram stuffing things in their mouth. ”

“Children cannot get up to your level, so you have to get down to theirs; try and understand how the world looks through their eyes.”

“If we respect little people then they in turn will grow up to respect others.”

“Put a book in a child’s hands or plant them in an empty field or park, and suddenly the world opens up and becomes a fantastical place of make believe and adventure.”

“Never let a house define you. You can make a home anywhere from an air raid shelter to a shed, if you have to. Riches and wealth don’t matter a jot.”

“I was always honest with my charges. In fact in every area of my life I have been most careful to never tell a lie. Why can’t everyone be more careful to tell the truth? At least we would all know where we stand in life.”

“Little folk deserve a childhood that’s full of fun. It’s the single most valuable lesson in my eyes. I have always encouraged children to have a giggle wherever and whenever they can.”

My Thoughts
A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story is the charming memoir of a woman who has dedicated six decades to caring for other people's children. Brenda Ashford's story begins in the 1930s when she first discovers her calling in life. She loves children with a passion, and feels strongly about the proper ways to care for them. Love, of course, is the proverbial spoonful of sugar. Ms. Ashford believes that children are like plants, needing care and attention to blossom into the adults they have the potential to become. She has certainly earned her right to offer advice through her decades of experience with children and their families. Her writing is warm, intelligent and full of good humor, and she sounds like a person who remains young at heart, even at the age of 92.

Despite some unnecessary repetitions, I greatly enjoyed Ms. Ashford's book. It's an interesting reminder of how child rearing has changed over the past century and how it has stayed the same, as well as a glimpse into the fascinating life story of one wise nanny.

The Giveaway
One lucky U.S./CAN reader will win a copy of A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story by Brenda Ashford.


This is a non-compensated post. Prize, review copy and information provided by sponsor. Opinions are my own.
Giveaway Rules: Giveaway ends 11:59 pm ET, April 26, 2013. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada, 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law. One winner will be chosen randomly, and odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. One prize per household. The winner will be contacted via e-mail and will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Entrants agree with this site's Official Rules.

27 comments:

  1. CMash said...

    So glad you enjoyed this book. I can't wait to read it since it has been receiving rave reviews. Thank you for your thoughts. Very nice review.

  2. Rebecca O said...

    I am reading this book: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yGEe_zpddNI I got it at Dollar Tree for just a dollar. It is really interesting so far. Fought provoking for sure.

  3. Marjorie/cenya2 said...

    I am reading The Flowers of War.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  4. Carl Scott said...

    The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

  5. Nancy said...

    I am currently reading Dread on Arrival by Claudia Bishop.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  6. DEBIJOT said...

    Under The Dome by Stephen King

  7. Carmen said...

    I am reading The Host right now. Thanks for the chance!

  8. Michelle Koerner said...

    the baby farm by karen katz

  9. ossmcalc said...

    I just finished reading a fantastic book A Thousand Splendid Suns.

  10. shana said...

    Clive Cussler's Striker

  11. Kathy said...

    I'm reading an Amish series by BJ Hoff.

  12. holdenj said...

    The Last Boyfriend, by Nora Roberts.

  13. Connie Lee said...

    I'm currently out of anything to read except a couple of magazines. I would love to win this book, thanks.

  14. Daniel M said...

    nothing i'm out of new reads

  15. Dorothy Teel said...

    Finn FInnegan is what I am reading at this time..

  16. Kate Fuller said...

    I'm currently reading The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal.

  17. Charity and John said...

    I am re-reading Breaking Dawn.

  18. Madonna said...

    rereading the Anne of Green Gables series. I usually read it at least a couple times a year. Its my favorite series.

  19. Anita Yancey said...

    I am reading Dead Run by Erica Spindler.

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

  20. Ari T said...

    I'm reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn!

  21. Kimberly said...

    Just finished The Help

  22. Kim Pinch said...

    Right now I am reading Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts. A Spoonful of Sugar is on my TBR list.

  23. Maureen said...

    I am reading Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

  24. Anonymous said...

    I am reading 7 Years Younger. Patricia

  25. Vicki Hale said...

    I am reading A Knight in Shining Armour.. again Thank you Vicki

  26. GeorgiaBeckman said...

    I haven't sat down to read in a long time. This book sounds delightful!

  27. kathy dalton said...

    i haVE NEGLECTED MY READING DUE TO MY NEW WORK SCHEDULE OF 12-9. i NEED MORE HOURS IN EACH DAY

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