Books set in Europe, Children's, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, humor

#458 Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Mary Poppins by P.L. TraversMary Poppins by P.L. Travers

I have seen the movie Mary Poppins many times. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but because I’ve seen it so many times, I remember a large part of the movie. This is the book the movie was based on. It was written by P.L. Travers and she wasn’t happy at all about how the movie turned out. I don’t know what she was so upset about. I don’t think the movie was all that bad compared to the book, but Mary Poppins isn’t as cheery in the book as she is in the movie.

At the Banks’ household the nanny has just quit. The four Banks’ children Michael, Jane, and the two young twins. Mrs. Banks just doesn’t know what to do. Mr. Banks tell her to put an advertisement in the newspaper, but a nanny shows up. Her name is Mary Poppins. She tells the children she will stay until the wind changes. She slides up the banister of the stair case instead of walking up.

Mary Poppins is very vain. She is constantly looking at herself in the mirror or in any shop windows. She gives the children their medicine which changes flavors depending on who is tasting it. Buttons come magically undone. Mary Poppins’ uncle, Mr. Wigg floats up high in his house instead of staying on the ground like a normal person. When the children say anything about this, Mary insists that she doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Mary goes with her friend Bert into a painting where she and Bert have a date of tea, scones, and a carousel. There was also a butler, but he was hiding behind a tree.

The children wonder what happens in the zoo one night. They find out. It turns out it’s Mary Poppins’ birthday and all the animals are celebrating. She’s cousins with one of the snakes, apparently. The children end up meeting a strange cast of characters in their time with Mary Poppins. Mary can talk to the neighbor’s dog. She knows a cow that is looking for a fallen star. She knows two women who make wonderful gingerbread and put paper stars in the sky to shine.

One day the wind changes and Mary Poppins is gone. She takes out her umbrella and floats away.

What I liked

There is more to the story than the movie lets on, so I liked that I got to read about the bits that didn’t make it into the movie. I liked the part about going into the painting and the people who stayed in the zoo after hours being locked in cages. That’s funny.

Mary Poppins is vain and she’s kind of…is there a way to say this nicely…she’s kind of a…ok, I don’t know what other word I would use here, so let’s just come out with it–she’s kind of a b****. I kind of like that. She’s not as wholesome as the movie makes her out to be. She’s more like that super nanny woman. She’s nice when she needs to be, but she knows how to put her foot down. She often tells the children she hasn’t the slightest idea what they’re talking about when they talk about all the crazy things that Mary Poppins lets them do. It’s kind of like the dark side of Mary Poppins. In the book, the kids don’t go with her on her date and I like that.

What I didn’t like

I’m kind of sad that there was no song about chimney sweeps. I liked that song. There was also no supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yes, I’ve known how to spell the word for years. I don’t know why I learned; I guess I thought it would be funny, some joke that was.

Mary Poppins doesn’t seem very attached to the children in this book. In the movie she does seem attached, but in the book, it seems that she is indifferent. It’s as if this is just her job and she stays to whip children into shape and then leaves, like the super nanny. Maybe they based that show on the character of Mary Poppins from the book.

Who is cousins with a snake? Nobody.


I think the world of Mary Poppins is neat. I love her umbrella and her magical bag. I need one of those.

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Books set in Europe, Children’s, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, humor, Travers-P.L.


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