Mary Poppins

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Mary Poppins Book Poster Image
Delightful tale of nanny who brings order, magic to family.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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

Violence & Scariness

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

What 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 is 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. A beautiful illustrated gift edition (shown here) and a lovely picture book adaptation of Mary Poppins come out Oct. 23, 2018, both published by HMH Books for Young Readers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4-year-old Written byLaurie A G. June 21, 2019

In a Rare Instance, The Movie is *Much* BetterThan The Book!

Two things to note: I have a degree in English and in reading and love books, as do my children; and we listened to the audiobook, which was unabridged.

I grew... Continue reading
Parent Written byhannah1991 August 3, 2020
Except for some racist language ("Red Indian"), I really enjoyed this book. Even though I've heard this series in particular was racist because o... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old July 16, 2020

One of the best books

This book is perfect for family's to read together. It is magical and fun with lots of humor
Kid, 11 years old March 5, 2020

This book is so cute!

Cute little book with interesting characters. Jane, the eldest and slightly bossy. Michael, a trouble-maker at times. Mary Poppins, seems vain and overly stri... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and classics

Themes & Topics

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