A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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 ...
- Author: P.L. Travers
- Illustrator: Mary Shepard
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: January 1, 1934
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 14, 2020
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