Mary Poppins



Delightful tale of nanny who brings order, magic to family.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn a little about ways of life in an upper-class London family in the 1930s, including jobs, women's roles, and child rearing. They'll also learn vocabulary words such as "perambulator," and they'll find out what types of animals live in different parts of the world.

Positive messages

Mary Poppins teaches children to look for magic in the everyday, and to view the world from the point of view of other creatures.

Positive role models

Mary Poppins insists on excellent manners and behavior but still shows her charges a wonderful, magical time.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

The only "colorful" language in Mary Poppins is in Admiral Boom's exclamations of "Blast my gizzard!"

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers' classic children's novel, has some different different plot points and characters from the beloved Disney film adaptation, but the original's charming and magical in its own ways. The book's old-fashioned, with dated gender roles and ideas about child-rearing and manners, but it offers timeless lessons about good conduct and understanding other points of view. Note that early editions of Mary Poppins included a different version of the chapter called "Bad Tuesday," in which Mary, Jane, and Michael use a magical compass to travel around the world in minutes. Travers' original portrayed people of different nationalities (Chinese, Eskimo, African, American Indians), and she was accused of stereotyping. She then wrote a new version where the travelers encounter local animals instead. In its revised version, Mary Poppins is pure delight. This book also figures in Disney's film Saving Mr. Banks, about the movie giant's efforts to adapt the novel for the big screen.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

When the Banks family of Cherry Tree Lane needs a new nanny to take care of their children -- Jane, Michael, and twin babies John and Barbara -- bossy Mary Poppins appears and \"accepts\" the position on her own terms. She's a woman of few words, and insists on order and excellent manners and conduct, but she also leads the children in magical adventures, where they take tea on the ceiling, visit the North Pole, and watch stars get placed in the sky. The Banks children often wonder if their outings were just dreams. Mainly, they hope that the wind doesn't change.

Is it any good?


MARY POPPINS, the classic children's novel that inspired the beloved Disney musical, is an absolute delight. Readers will notice that the filmmakers took considerable liberties with P.L. Travers' plot and characters, but the spirit and cleverness of Mary come through in both versions. Unique to the novel are Jane and Michael's twin siblings, babies John and Barbara. A chapter entirely devoted to the infants creates a fascinating perspective where babies have special wisdom. Mary Poppins' world is magical and fascinating, and full of life lessons told in strange and wonderful ways.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences between the novel and the Disney's movie musical based on it. Which do you like better, and why?

  • Would you like Mary Poppins to come take care of you?

  • Read more books in the Mary Poppins series.

Book details

Author:P.L. Travers
Illustrator:Mary Shepard
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:January 1, 1934
Number of pages:224
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Mary Poppins was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass