Thursday, July 4, 2024

The McNifficents by Amy Makechnie

Happy July 4th! We're expecting quite a bit of rain (storms) today, so I don't think we're going to be celebrating in a big way, but we'll enjoy the holiday, anyway. 

I hope all of you do, too!

by Amy Makechnie
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Animal Fiction
320 pages
ages 8 to 12

A senior Miniature Schnauzer employed as a very distinguished nanny has his paws full trying to prove he’s still the dog for the job in this sweet and “chaotically entertaining” ( Kirkus Reviews ) middle grade novel that’s The Secret Life of Pets meets The Vanderbeekers series.

Every day, Lord Tennyson the Miniature Schnauzer does his very best to care for the six McNiff children and keep them from destroying their pink New England farmhouse—and the rest of the town for that matter. But when summer vacation brings the kids home together all day, his chaos-containing skills are put to the ultimate test.

Baby Sweetums is still refusing to walk, nap, or listen to anyone; Ezra is trying to keep a snake as a secret pet; Annie and Mary’s fighting is worse than ever; and Pearl and Tate are scared of just about everything. And when a particularly tempting troop of baby chicks arrives at the house, even Lord Tennyson finds he can’t stay on his best behavior.

As the chaos begin to spiral out of hand, though, something truly awful Mr. and Mrs. McNiff seem to be considering getting “a real nanny” to care for their big brood! Can Lord Tennyson get the McNiffs’ hijinks under control and teach them to behave before the summer’s out? Or will this most unusual nanny find himself out of a job and back in the doghouse?

GOODREADS    /      AMAZON    /     B&N     /      STORYGLORY KIDS


Big family heart and chaos are left to be conquered by a highly sophisticated dog, who might love his family more than anyone knows.

Lord Tennyson is a miniature schnauzer...not a young one...and realizes it's his duty to care for the six McNiff children and teach them to be caring, well-mannered, and all-around good humans. But his job isn't easy. Mr. and Mrs. McNiff are a little off in their own worlds and don't always take tight rein of the children like they should. Luckily, Lord Tennyson is up for the job. And what a job it is!

There's never a quiet or calm moment as a keen, honorable, and maybe-not-as-lofty-as-he-claims dog attempts to steer six problem children like a nanny. The tale is told from his perspective as he does his best to keep each one out of trouble, guide their behaviors, and show them how to get along. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. But each moment brings humor or familiar issues which hit home and come across naturally.

The tale propels from one situation to the next and is driven by the children's naughty antics...and they can be mean. While they have distinct personalities, it does take awhile to get grasp on each one. I missed a bit more individual connection in the beginning, but it comes as the story goes on. It's Lord Tennyson who stays at the center of the story, anyway, as he tries to manage everything as best he can, and these kids need all the help they can get. They are always up to something in various ways. The parents are often absent (not only physically but mentally distracted), which adds a different tone but works. Since it's Lord Tennyson, who drives the arc, the plot plays nicely, and messages surrounding forgiveness and understanding come across loud and clear.

Especially the lower end of the middle grade audience will enjoy this read. Although it weighs in with around 340 pages, the larger font and spacing allow for easier reading. There are lovely illustrations scattered throughout the read to add to the atmosphere. While there are important messages and character arcs, the plot moves along quickly and offers a somewhat lighter depth. This might leave the older end of the age group wishing for a bit more. 

It's an entertaining read, which highlights sibling antics and packs more than a little humor. Plus, Lord Tennyson is a super sweet dog to root for the entire way through.

And here she is...

Amy Makechnie is an author of books for young people of all ages. Her novels include The Unforgettable Guinevere St. ClairTen Thousand Tries, and The McNifficents. Stay in touch with Amy by subscribing to her newsletter at


Melissa said...

Reminds me of our family when the kids were little.

About the rain...there is an upside. At least you don't have to worry about some errant firework setting the place on fire.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Tonja Drecker said...

When I reminded my daughter that July 4th was this last week, she smiled and said, "Oh, so Thursday it's going to rain."