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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers

Most people are pretty familiar with the Disney version of Mary Poppins.  But not everyone knows that Mary Poppins is the first in a whole series of books, and that the tone of the books is quite different from the Disney version of events.  I highly recommend you consider checking out these slightly grittier books.

Mary Poppins Comes Back is the second book in the series.  If you've seen  the Disney movie, you could easily pick up this book and start from here; if you know nothing about Mary Poppins, I'd recommend starting with Mary Poppins.

So in the books, Mary is rather stern with the Banks children, but it works.  She's also a bit uptight, domineering, short, and bossy.  She even tells Mr. and Mrs. Banks what to do sometimes!  She sets her own schedule, coming and going out of their employment at her will, not theirs.  When she puts the kids to bed, she simply tells them to go to bed and then leaves the room.  No sentimental storytime or good nights.  In the movie, she cheerily sings "Spoonful of Sugar" and magically makes castor oil taste delicious; in the book she makes the kids take the med without changing the taste or singing a song.

However, the magic is definitely still there, and that's what makes these books so excellent.  No matter what is happening on Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins and her magic can distract and/or make things better.  This series of books is almost written like a series of vignettes; the chapters can easily be read one at a time, as there's no cliffhanger endings.  In each one, one or more the Banks children is facing a conflict and in each one something magical happens.  Also at the end of each chapter:  Mary totally denying that anything unusual happened.  For example, in one story Jane Banks wakes up having a bad day.  (Yes, a very minor conflict, but a conflict in the life of a child still.)  She ends up magically shrinking down and "entering" the world depicted on the side of a fancy porcelain bowl on the mantelpiece, where she meets three young boys.  When things don't go as well as hoped for, and Mary has to rescue her, she comes home in a much better mood and much more appreciative of the life she does have.  Mary, as usual, tells Jane that she imagined the whole thing.  Yet, Mary's scarf is clearly visible in the picture on the bowl after the whole escapade!

The magic continues throughout the book... the children meet Mr. Turvy and his wife, Mrs. Topsy.  They also go bouncing through the park, buoyed by big colorful balloons.  And finally, they also learn the story of the King of the Castle and the Dirty Rascal, and learn that Mary may have been involved, of course.

If you find yourself needing a magically surprising escape, like the Banks children sometimes do, check out the Mary Poppins series!

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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  1. If you are a fan of these books, you really should watch the movie "Saving Mr. Banks." It's great!