May 08, 2007

Review:Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins
by P.L. Travers

Last winter I won a $50. gift certificate from my local used book store. One of the books that I received with it was a very old copy of this well known children's tale. I read it last week after my computer choked up and required the services of the Theologian(he shares a special bond with computers). The book's not big and the chapters are set up in an episodic fashion. The writing is not anything special but common to the way books were written at the time(that would be in 1934).

Mary Poppins floats in on the east wind to be the nanny for the Banks. Right from the beginning she is different from all other nannies, declaring, "Oh, I make it a rule never to give references...A very old-fashioned idea to my mind. Very old-fashioned. Quite out of date, as you might say." She then proceeds to gracefully slide up the banister. Yes, it starts very much like the Disney version; but it soon changes. You see, Mary Poppins isn't the lovable Julie Andrews type at all. In fact, she seems pretty stern and grumpy, and given to vanity. But she possesses magic. Or does she? The Banks children are never altogether sure that anything magically really happened since Mary acts as if the children are being annoying or naughty when they mention the things that have just taken place.

My favorite chapter involved Maia, a girl who is actually a star; in fact, she is the second of the cluster of seven stars known as the Pleiades. She has come down to do the Christmas shopping. I'm not sure it was so much the story in this chapter I loved as the character of Maia herself, and the romantic notion of the seven sisters with their distinct personalities playing together in the night sky and observing the world by day. Other than that the book didn't really hold my interest much. I just couldn't reconcile my idea of a Julie Andrews Poppins with this less likable and not-too-friendly version. This will make the second book I've read that I preferred the Disney adaptation of, the first being Pinocchio.

It wasn't a bad book and who wouldn't like the idea of a nanny who could fly and perform other magical feats. I just had higher expectations, as usual. Ms. Andrews will always hold a special place in my heart.

In the next couple of weeks I will be reading two large books: the Odyssey and the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. This will leave me with little book related topics to write about. So, I will take this time to acquaint you with some of the more lovable quarks within Petunia's family. It should be fun.

I'll leave you with a little quote I came across this week:
The Christian who is not growing intellectually is like a book whose many
pages remain unopened and unread. Like the book, he may be of some value,
but not nearly as much as if he had chosen to sharpen and develop his
mind.
-Gordon MacDonald in Ordering Your Private World

2 comments:

Quixotic said...

I haven't actually read Mary Poppins, although I have seen the film countless times. I'm vaguely intrigued by the sound of the book - maybe I'll get round to it someday.

Petunia said...

I think there are 4 books in all. I read the first. Save it for a rainy day when you have nothing else to read. (Yeah, right!)