Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nancy and Plum” as Want to Read:
Nancy and Plum
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nancy and Plum

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  510 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
"Nancy and Plum" is a delightful old fashioned Christmas story about two sisters, Nancy, 10 and Plum, 8, whose parents died in an accident. Their only surviving relative is Uncle John, a wealthy bachelor with little patience or time for children. He puts the girls in Mrs. Monday's Boarding School in Heavenly Valley, persuaded by Mrs. Monday's promises and unctuous manner. ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published January 7th 1999 (first published 1952)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nancy and Plum, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nancy and Plum

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Absolutely loved this. It was recommended to me last January by a friend who knew I was looking for more Christmas books, so I put off reading it until now, and I'm both sad and glad. Sad that I'm just discovering it, and glad that I'm reading it at the start of the Christmas season.

The book covers a whole year in the lives of orphaned sisters Nancy and Plum, but it starts and ends with Christmas and has a sort of Christmassy spirit throughout. It's based on the stories about two plucky sisters
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children ages 7 - 10
This is my absolute favorite childhood book. It deals with so many amazing issues, but the best part is having two very different protagonists who both find their own way in the world. Plus the whole bad-guys-get-it-in-the-end is extremely satisfying. :)
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betty MacDonald’s Nancy and Plum has been republished as part of the Vintage Children’s Classics series, which features such titles as Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The novel includes an afterword by former children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson, who says that it is her favourite work for younger readers, and charming new illustrations by Catharina Baltas.

Nancy and Plum, which was first published in 1952, begins on Christmas Eve. MacDonald sets the sce
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Before there was Lemony Snicket and his Series of Unfortunate Events, there was Betty McDonald's Nancy and Plum. A gem of comic storytelling, this is one of those books you show down on reading as you pass the halfway mark, because you just don't want it to end. A thorough delight!
Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Deyanne by: Holly
This is a nostalgic children's Christmas story by renown author Betty MacDonald of theMrs. Piggle-Wigglefame. Vividly, the clever magic of Mrs. Pigglewiggle is one of my earliest childhood memories of a book that I just loved. I have no idea how old I was when I read this and I wish I had been introduced to this Christmas story at that time. Nancy and Plum are two young orphans in a story very similar to Annie of the musical fame. They, too, are orphans and kept in an orphanage with a wicked and ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, cozy, favorites
One of my very favorite books as a kid. Orphans at a boarding home run by the cruel Mrs. Monday, Nancy and Plum have to dress in worn clothes and eat oatmeal and prunes. They dream of escaping the boarding home and are helped by their teacher and the town librarian when they run away.
Great descriptions of baking potatoes in a fire, sleeping in a haystack, eating apples, and the joys of having a china doll with real hair, many dresses, a fur coat, and little white gloves.
Susan  Dunn
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-fiction
This is a great story for those conservative parents who don't want their kids to be reading books with sex and drugs and violence. Also for girls who loved Sara Crewe. After their parents are killed, two little girls are sent to live at a horrible boarding school run by the cruel and abusive Miss Monday. How the manage to rescue themselves makes a quick but sweet read.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first time reading "Nancy and Plum" since my third grade teacher read it aloud to us after recess each day in 1994. I loved it then, and now I can understand why: there are detailed descriptions of EVERYTHING and the simplistic story lines are filled with adventure and exaggerated characters, most of whom are either good or evil. Perfect fodder for a child's imagination.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember when I read this first - when I was 10 or 11, probably. I do clearly remembering loving it to death, and it being the perfect wintry book to snuggle up with. A really charming classic. :)
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book at the library and thought I'd give it a's a children's book and I had a lot of fun reading it. I didn't want the story to end and wished there was a part 2 and 3 etc..etc..
Kellyn Roth
One of the best books I've ever read. :)
Sarah Sandfort Schultz
One of my favorites that I've read to the kids! They loved it, too. Great for post-Christmas, had that Christmas-y, winter feel to it. Wish there were more Nancy and Plum books!
Charlotte Dent
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this children's book, about two orphans, when growing up. It made me feel good to read it again.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Charming and full of sweet characters. I love a feel-good story.
Jannah Horvath
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Grade level: 5.5
Genre: Fiction

Published in the 1950s by the same writer who wrote Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Nancy and Plum is a story of two orphans on Christmas Eve. The only children left at Mrs. Monday's boarding house, they create a plan to escape the horrible Mrs. Monday and her terrible niece Marybelle. After months of eating burnt oatmeal and being treated awfully, the girls find a new family that showers them with love.
Although this book is 'old fashioned' it's rich details stand the rest of
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

After the death of their parents, sisters Nancy and Pamela (Plum) were left in the care of an uncle, who, knowing very little about children, immediately placed them in a boarding house with Mrs. Monday, who promises to look after them. In truth, Mrs. Monday is a horrible caretaker, forcing the children to wear rags and issuing over-the-top punishments for even the most minor of infractions. When Nancy and Plum discover that she has been conc
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like many classic heroines, Nancy, age 10, and her sister Plum, eight, are orphans. Because the guardian who inherited them when they were very young has no interest in children, he placed them in Mrs. Monday's boarding house, and has not seen them since. Mrs. Monday has a lot in common with the Dursleys and Mrs. Minchin of a Little Princess -she starves and works all the children in her care except for her obnoxious niece Marybelle. She steals the presents that Uncle John sends his nieces, and ...more
Nancy and Plum's parents died in a car accident when they were very young, and their uncle was made their guardian. An affirmed bachelor, and knowing nothing about children, he sends them to live at Mrs. Monday's boarding house - never knowing what a horrible situation he has put these young girls in.

It is now years later, and Nancy and Plum have grown up into sweet amazing little girls, in spite of their situation. The book starts and ends with Christmas, but it gives a glimpse into the life a
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone in search of a good fairy tale
Betty MacDonald is famous for her Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, which are bursting with hilarious sarcasm. Nancy and Plum is a bit of a departure as far as her children's books go. The story of two orphaned sisters looking for a proper home, it's sentimental in the best sense of the word. Don't get me wrong -- the book also elicits several good laughs, but they serve to add some levity to a fairly dark story of childhood deprivation.

Betty's talent for describing nature is at its strongest in Nancy
Two orphaned sisters take matters into their own hands.

Nancy and Plum are two orphans who live at Mrs. Monday's Boarding School. Life is not rosy for these sisters, as they are Mrs. Monday's favorite scapegoats whenever anything goes wrong. They live by their wits most of the time, with a bit of sass thrown in. They're definitely not afraid to tell Mrs. Monday what's what, which as you can imagine, does not do much to further her good graces. They do have an under-the-radar champion: Old Tom, Mr
Sunnyvale Librarian
This story by the author of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books was originally published in 1952. It's been reprinted with new illustrations by Mary GrandPre (of Harry Potter fame) with an introduction by Jeanne Birdsall (author of the Penderwicks series). This is one of those classic stories of poor little orphan girls put in a boarding school by a rich busy Uncle with no knowledge of children. Mrs. Monday feeds them very little, makes them work a lot, and she doesn't give them the letters and present ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young girls 5+ and their parents
This was one of my all-time favorite childhood books. I received it as a gift and read it over and over, until the binding broke and I had to get a new copy. Then I read that copy over and over until the binding broke... ;) In 4th grade, my teacher gave me the role of reading to the class each day (I enjoyed reading to others even back then!), and I convinced him to let me read Nancy and Plum. It was a big hit with the class.

The author, Betty McDonald, made up this story as she went along, telli
Dec 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nancy and Plum are orphaned and sent by their wealthy Uncle John to a boarding school in the country since he is completely uninterested in bringing up children. The proprietor of the boarding school, Mrs. Monday, is of course a terribly evil woman but pulls the wool right over Uncle John's eyes. She steals the presents he sends his nieces and intercepts any mail going back and forth. Nancy and Plum are cold, hungry, and wear shoes with holes in them. They do endless chores. Still, their spirits ...more
Oct 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My third-grade teacher read this to my class back in 1972 and it totally captured my imagination. Nancy and Plum are orphans with a wealthy and generous uncle who is duped into sending them them to a boarding home where they will supposedly receive loving care and a proper upbringing. But, as stories about orphans often go, all it not as it seems at the boarding house and Uncle's gifts and letters not only go undelivered, but end up in the hands of the insufferable neice of the evil woman who ru ...more
Heather Young
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
So my beloved Aunt told me that I just had to read this book because the two little girls reminder her of me. So went and ordered it and while I have to admit it took me a little while to actually read it, in fact I kind of lost it on my bookshelf for a bit, when I finally sat down and read it through was happy that these spunky feisty little women made her think of me growing up. I remember being that fearless as a child and I remember dealing with an entitled sibling as well much as Nancy and ...more
Linda Orvis
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Betty MacDonald fans, children, grandparents, moms and dads
Recommended to Linda by: Sherri
What a delightful chapter book for kids! My good friend Sherri gave me this book for Christmas because she knows how much I love Betty MacDonald. I've read all her adult books (The Egg & I, The Plague and I, Onions in the Stew, Anybody Can Do Anything), and a couple of her Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, children's books. This is a classic story of two sisters losing their parents and being placed in the cruel Mrs. Monday's boarding house by their uncle. The real charm of this book is the development of ...more
Jessica at Book Sake
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
The characters of Nancy and Plum are a bit extravagant, but so is their living situation. The story of children sent to live in a home that isn’t their own, are looked over by a guardian that isn’t quite nice, and are made to go without many basic needs is very familiar. MacDonald tells the tale in such a way that you can easily envision the characters, what their home looks like, feel their happiness over the small things, and have your heart break along with theirs at the sad moments. It’s a f ...more
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book as a child and loved it. One Christmas Eve in the 50's my two next in age sisters and I sat in my bed while I read the entire book to them. This is still one of our favorite memories. Today I was shopping for Christmas gifts in the children's section at Barnes and Noble and found this hardcover edition just sitting there all by itself waiting for me to come find it. I think it was the only copy. I had to buy it. This afternoon I read the entire book. Tomorrow I will give i ...more
Although I've read all of Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, I'd never heard of Nancy and Plum. It doesn't have quite the appeal of the Mrs. P books, but was worth reading. The writing sometimes suffers a bit. I noticed a few pages that went "Nancy said..." "Plum said..." "Nancy said..." "Plum said..." etcetera. And maybe some of the situations are a bit over the top, too. Still, kids who like old-fashioned stories will probably feel right at home with Nancy and Plum and their comrades.
Pretty standard orphans-at-cruel-school fare, nothing too horrific. The introduction mentioned that originally Nancy and plum represented the author and her sister in a series of adventurous stories she made up as a child. Here all the adventure is removed and a fairly realistic portrayal of rural school is left. I would have a preferred some wilder action, personally, which is I guess why I prefer The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Prairie School
  • Heaven to Betsy / Betsy in Spite of Herself (Betsy-Tacy #5-6)
  • Beany Malone
  • Summer Begins (The Callahan Cousins, #1)
  • The Not-Just-Anybody Family (Blossom Family, #1)
  • The Wind on the Moon
  • Katie John
  • Debutante Hill
  • Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space
  • I Wanna Be Your Shoebox
  • The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
  • Curious Critters
  • Avalon: The Warlock Diaries, Volume 1
  • The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
  • We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes
  • Night of the Spadefoot Toads
  • How Mirka Caught a Fish (Hereville #3)
  • Williwaw!
The first book written by Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I , rocketed to the top of the national bestseller list in 1945. Translations followed in more than 30 languages, along with a series of popular movies. In the wake of World War II, the hilarious accounts of MacDonald's adventures as a backwoods farmer's wife in Chimacum Valley were a breath of fresh air for readers around the world. On the n ...more
More about Betty MacDonald...

Share This Book

“It was Christmas Eve. Big snowflakes fluttered slowly through the air like white feathers and made all of the Heavenly Valley smooth and white and quiet and beautiful.

Tall fir trees stood up to their knees in snow and their outstretched hands were heaped with it. Those that were bare of leaves wore soft white fur on their scrawny, reaching arms and all the stumps and low bushes had been turned into fat white cupcakes.”
“Nancy grabbed Plum's hand and together they ran around the last curve and then they were leaning against the old stone wall that marked Lookout Hill. Far, far down below them, a river was trying to wriggle its way out of a steep canyon. Over to the right, thick green hills crowded close to each other to share one filmy white cloud. To the left, as far as they could see the land flowed into valleys that shaded from a pale watery green, through lime, emerald, jade, leaf, forest to a dark, dark, bluish-green, almost black. The rivers were like inky lines, the ponds like ink blots.” 1 likes
More quotes…