Thursday, March 4, 2010

Amaranthine Review: Mary Poppins

The wind brings two English children a new nanny who slides up the bannister and introduces them to some delightful people and experiences.
[from Goodreads]

For all her offended sniffs and humphs, Mary Poppins is likely the most exciting nanny England--and the world--has ever seen. Young Jane and Michael Banks have no idea what's in store for them when Mary Poppins blows in on the east wind one autumn evening. Soon, though, the children are having tea on the ceiling, flying around the world in a minute (visiting polar bears and hyacinth macaws on the way), and secretly watching as their unusual nanny pastes gold paper stars to the sky. Mary's stern and haughty exterior belies the delightful nonsense she harbors; her charges, as well as her literary fans, respect and adore her.
Grownups who have forgotten Mary Poppins's true charms will be tickled pink to rediscover this uniquely unsentimental fantasy. Younger readers will walk into Mary's world without batting an eye. Certainly a falling star landing on a cow's horn will make her dance ceaselessly. Why wouldn't one be able to enter into a chalk picture? The only disappointing aspect of this classic is that it doesn't go on forever! (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
 [from Goodreads]
 
Rating: 4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Children of all ages, fans of grumpy nannies
High point:  Mary Poppins herself, of course
Low point:  Mr. and Mrs. Banks
Reader maturity:  5+
Favorite quotes:  "Then the shape, tossed and bent under the wind, lifted the latch of the gate, and they could see that it belonged to a woman, who was holding her hat on with one hand and carrying a bag in the other. As they watched, Jane and Michael saw a curious thing happen. As soon as the shape was inside the gate the wind seemed to catch her up into the air and fling her at the house. It was as though it had flung her first at the gate, waited for her to open it, and then had lifted and thrown her, bag and all, at the front door. The watching children heard a terrific bang, and as she landed the whole house shook."
"What I want to know is this: Are the stars gold paper or is the gold paper stars?"

Mary Poppins first visits the Banks children in P. L. Travers' novel about the formidable pillar of the nursery and the adventures she has with the Jane and Michael and the twins. Her character is harsh and crabby, yet it is evident that she cares for the children. They blossom under her strict care and learn more than they ever could have imagined just by accompanying Mary Poppins on the simplest of errands. Chalk picture lands, gingerbread stars and tea parties on the ceiling are all in a day's work for the magical nanny.

I collected almost all of the Mary Poppins novels as a child but loved this one, the first in the series, best. The literary Mary Poppins is a far cry from the Hollywood version and even more interesting when given a chance; the farfetched stories in the books are more numerous and mind-boggling than those of the movie. The other characters in the stories are charming as well--the policemen, the chimney sweep, even the other servants. They all create an almost fairy tale world within London, capturing the imaginations of children for decades.

Title:  Mary Poppins
Author:  P. L. Travers
Genre:  Children's Fiction and Literature
Year:  1934
Book Source:  Purchased

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