Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mary Poppins

by P.L. Travers
published: Peter Davies, 1956 (originally 1934)
pages 206

Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way and her skills as a nanny prove just that to the Banks children: Jane, Michael, John and Barbara.  She is kind but stern and never sees anything out of the ordinary.  As a matter of fact, every time the children try to explain to her that she might be, she doesn't know what they are talking about. Mary Poppins and the Banks children go on many adventures and meet some interesting people, this book is one of those stories.

The world might be smitten with Mary Poppins, but I can't seem to completely wrap my head around this original version of her.  Sure she is memorizing and adventurous, but she also seem uncharacteristically harsh.  When I imagined Mary Poppins, I remembered her being incredibly kind and sweet, but I might just be confusing that idea with not having a backbone.  I do know that Jane and Michael Banks needed a rather firm nanny, what with all the running away and everything.  Still, I'm a little disappointed that the Mary Poppins in my head does not match the original make.

Other the other hand, the adventures had were quite entertaining and very intriguing.  I loved that some of the adventures did not center around Jane and Michael at all.  A couple happened on Mary Poppin's off day and one occurred with a dog.  There's a story of a dancing cow and one of the stars in the sky.  I think they were all creatively crafted and enjoyable to read.

One thing I did find interesting was the fact that Jane and Michael Banks have younger siblings, twins: John and Barbara.  While most of the book revolved around Mary and the eldest Banks children, the twins get their own chapter.  This story was one of my favorite.  I thought it was quite funny and adorable to see what kind of mischief the twins get up to and to whom they talk.

It'll be some time before I get to another Mary Poppins book, but I might just pick another one up.

Stars: 3/5


"When Mary Poppins is about, her young charges never tell where the real world merges into make-believe.  Neither can the reader, and that is one of the hallmarks of good fantasy."
     -- The New York Times

There is an extraordinary charm about these books...They are whimsical, sentimental [and] also funny, imaginative, poetical and genuinely creative."
     --The New York Evening Post

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