A couple of weeks ago the husband and I watched Saving Mr. Banks and we loved loved loved it! We highly recommend it, and I'm afraid we may have become annoying, as we're still telling all of our friends and family to go watch it. The movie shows the period of time when P.L. Travers travels to LA to work with Walt Disney and his team to create a movie version of her book, Mary Poppins. The movie honestly shows that Miss Travers is not exactly easy to work with, and also shows her devotion to keeping the movie as true to the book as possible. As we were watching the movie, I jumped on my library app and put in requests for Mary Poppins (I had never read it!) and for Mary Poppins, She Wrote (this is a P.L. Travers bio that I'll review later).
I'm so glad I finally read Mary Poppins! It's such a wonderful little book. I might just have to get a copy to gift to a nephew next Christmas. This is a great book read straight through, like I did, and I feel like it would also be a great read-aloud. The first chapter sets the scene, introducing the members of the Banks family and showing the arrival of Mary Poppins. The final chapter has the departure of Mary Poppins on the east wind. But all the chapters in between could feasibly be read in any order. They're all mini-stories! I love that.
Mary Poppins of Mary Poppins is a bit different from Disney's Mary Poppins. She's not cheery. I don't think she smiles or laughs once in the book. It's interesting, though, because she makes magic happen and she comforts the Banks children and the reader can tell that she cares about the Banks children... but she constantly denies it all. For instance, in one story she takes the older two Banks children to visit her friend Mr. Wigg. When Mr. Wigg laughs and it's his birthday and it's a Friday, he floats in the air up to the ceiling and he can't get down again until he thinks of something sad or it's Saturday. Mary Poppins the children arrive at his home to find him floating at the ceiling and Mary Poppins continues to tell him how ridiculous he is and scold him for his behavior... yet she herself floats up to the ceiling (by magic, not by laughter) and brings up the tea table and refreshments with her!
As an adult reading the book, I can see the true meaning in the book. Mary Poppins isn't at the Banks house to create meaningless fun and whimsy; she's there to rescue the family, to help them rekindle their love for each other and to find joy in life again. As soon as the family has begun to mend, she's off again.
This book is so well-written. The amount of emotion and magic and character development that P.L. Travers manages to squeeze into so few pages is amazing. The author herself has been quoted as saying that she does not write children's books. She writes books for everyone, including but not limited to children. So true.