I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but you should know before we start that Mary Poppins is my favorite movie of all time. Of course, I used to turn it off right after the crew finishes yucking it up on the ceiling because the whole chimney sweep bit used to frighten me as a kid, but I digress. I think I always knew somewhere in the back of my head that Mary Poppins started as a book, but I was never especially interested in reading it until Saving Mr. Banks was released. Sadly for Disney, it didn’t inspire me to go see the movie, just to pick up the book. It’s alright. Disney has gotten more than enough of my money.
I had heard that PL Travers’ Mary Poppins was quite a bit different than the Mary of the movie I so adored, so I was nervous going into it. Really, I was mostly nervous that the dancing penguins were a complete Disney fabrication. I am pleased to report that my nerves were wholly unfounded. Yes, PL Travers’ original Mary Poppins
was rather different than the movie. Many of the adventures played out a bit differently, but I found the spirit of the stories remained the same.
Mary Poppins descends on 17 Cherry Tree Lane one blustery afternoon. The FOUR Banks children (that’s right, Jane, Michael, and a set of infant twins named John and Barbara) are immediately in her thrall. Though she’s somewhat vain and not particularly snuggly, Mary manages to put a bit of magic into the mundane.
Mary spends an afternoon with Bert (who is not a chimney sweep) jumping into a chalk painting, and though no penguin waiters present themselves, they have a lovely tea regardless. Jane and Michael are treated to flavor changing medicine, laugh themselves up to the ceiling with Uncle Albert, and we learn that Mary can converse with animals. Mary’s Doolitle-y talents lead to a particularly entertaining birthday celebration at the zoo featuring the loveliest PENGUIN poet you can possibly imagine (I breathed an audible sigh of relief when he showed up!) Oh yes. And do you recall little Andrew, the tiny dog in the sweater? He lives a more fascinating life than I ever imagined!
Though it’s rare for me, it sometimes happens that I can enjoy a book and its movie adaptation equally, but for different reasons. Mary Poppins is destined to be utterly charming in any form. I highly recommend you read this, and if you have little ones, get it in the bedtime story rotation.
Alright, Bookworms. What was your favorite movie as a kid? Was it based on a book? Have you read that book?
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