[BINGO 4 & BINGO 5]
After a steady stretch of some seriously challenging reading, I decided that to fill my final CBR10 Bingo square for “The Book Was Better,” I’d read something cheerful and pleasant. So, Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back by PL Travers it was! They were a perfect choice.
Since I had only ever seen the Julie Andrews movie from 1964, and had never read any of the books in the series, this seemed a perfect opportunity to read the source material before Mary Poppins Returns comes out in December 2018. The 1964 film—even factoring in the limited special effects abilities of the day, a Disney musical script, and Dick Van Dyke’s horrendous *Cockney* accent—was still a delightful treat, mostly due to Julie Andrew’s ability to temper down the saccharine sweetness of it all.
I enjoyed the heck out of both books, and was pleased to find out that there were some differences between the movie version of Mary and the book version, and that I actually like the book version better. PL Travers created Mary Poppins to be a clever, practical, magical nanny, who is also just a teeny bit vain, and any child, of any period, might both love and fear her.
The Banks children, Jane and Michael (and the twins, John and Barbara) are charming, but also a bit silly and naughty. They clearly adore Mary, but they know that messing about will lead to swift consequences, albeit discharged with benevolent fairness. I can’t think of a better series of books for any young child—yesterday, or today. Travers clearly landed these books in the sweet spot between treacle and tart, in a way that makes them appealing to readers of any generation. I’m hoping the new movie finds this balance as well.