I'm finding myself reading books that I somehow missed in my childhood and am now about halfway through the Mary Poppins series. This set was started in the 1950's by P.L. Travers. It focusses on Jane and Michael Banks, two children living in London, their family and neighbors, and their new nanny, Mary Poppins. After a series of unsuitable (or fed up) nannies, Mary Poppins materializes from the sky to put the Banks household right. She takes the children on exciting adventures on regales them of fanciful stories that might just be true.
Here are some things that I love about Mary Poppins:
- One of the Subject Headings is "Magic in the Real World." And who among us doesn't need a bit of that now and again?
- She's super-sassy. Mary won't take lip from nobody, not children, not adults, not the policeman, not mythical creatures. Nobody.
- She makes sure that the children get just what they need, just when they need it. Whether that's a jam sandwich or a good lesson in humility.
- She takes the children on adventures which are sometimes delightful and sometimes unpleasant. But always magical. She then denies that the whole episode ever happened.
- She is a snazzy dresser.
You know how you go back and read books that you loved as a kid like Babar or Tintin and you're like: "wow, that part was kinda colonialist/racist/misogynistic" and then you feel bad for loving it so much and wonder whether you should recommend the book to the kids in your life? There's a bit of that in some, but not all, of the books. There's an "Indian Chief…" sigh.
I will continue reading the series because Mary Poppins is a Boss and she makes me happy.
What's different from the movies:
- Three children were written out of the movie script
- The book is not a musical
- Mary is not quite as nice or doting in the books
- In the books, there is definitely something going in between Mary and Bert... but what?
Should you read the books? If you're into magic and awesome, I say yes!
What series from your childhood have you revisited and what are your thoughts?