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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2005
If you're buying this because you or your children love the film of Mary Poppins, don't expect the same slightly stern but very twinkly-eyed Mary as the one so fantastically portrayed by Julie Andrews. PL Travers' original and best Mary can be quite harsh with a rare show of tenderness limited to a "Hmph" as she tucks you in, but for all that, this is a book not to be missed. There are some valuable lessons for children and adults alike; some laugh-out-loud moments and some real tear-jerkers (see the chapter entitled "John and Barbara's Story". The film-makers took enough similarities from the book that children can recognise the Mary they know and love (sliding up the stairs, the carpet bag, the flavour-changing medicine etc.) but many of the adventures with Mary Poppins in this book are marvellously different. This book is a joy for adults to read aloud to children and despite explaining to my 6 year-old daughter that the stories in this original book of Mary Poppins were quite different to the film, she loves this book and eagerly awaits each night's chapter. A real gem and justifiably a classic - you'll be very sad to reach the end of the book.
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Katie Nana has left the Banks family in need of a new nanny. But before they know it, a woman blows in on the East Wind. Literally. She takes the position of caring for the four children, Jane, Michael, and the twins John and Barbara. But with her extremely prim and proper attitude comes magical adventures. A day in the park, having tea, running errands, and even Christmas shopping can turn into an adventure when Mary's around. And the kids love it.
This most decidedly is not the Disney Mary Poppins. Disney toned her down significantly for his movie, making her heart easier to see. Still, it's there if you look closely in the book. I had forgotten just how hard it is to see at times behind Mary's outward appearance and actions. Still, the kids come to love her because they know where they really stand.
As with all books in the series, this one is a series of adventures. Each chapter tells it's own story, each story it's own fun, magical adventure.
Those looking for Disney's Mary will be greatly disappointed. But anyone looking for a fun series of adventures will find a woman who does care for those around her, even if it's not always super obvious.
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on 9 January 2016
I had never read any of the Mary Poppins books as a child, although I grew up with the film, which was made when I was about two, and have always loved it; it is one of my nostalgic treasures! So I thought it was about time I read the book, and it hasn't taken anything away from my affection for the film (thankfully). As others have pointed out, it is not a linear novel; it is a series of short stories featuring Mary, her friends and relatives, the Banks' family, and a number of other characters I won't describe as it might spoil it for you.
The book has a different atmosphere to the film; it is all a bit darker, less sentimental; Mary herself is not as endearing a character as Julie Andrews portrays, but is actually more interesting for it. Some of the stories come as something of a surprise until you read that P L Travers had a lifelong interest in myth and legend.
I would heartily recommend this to anyone, whether you have seen the film or not. I will definitely be reading the rest (I think there are six in all)
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First I have a confession to make, I was in my twenties before I even saw the Disney movie, and I must admit that I loved it. Now many years later I have got round to reading the first book in the Mary Poppins collection, there are another five novels as well as this one.

The Disney film was based on this book and its sequel, but of course there are things not mentioned in the book that were in the film, and vice versa. I won't go into depth of what the story is about, because we all know that Mary appeared as a nanny to look after the Banks' children. Reading this book though you see that like Gaskell's 'Cranford' the story is really made up of a number of sketches, and thus is not a conventional style novel; indeed you could read it as a series of short stories all about Mary Poppins. Mary herself is a bit darker than in the film and she is very vain.

Even at my age this book had me laughing out loud at some of the things said and some of the incidents, so this shows that it is definitely a book for all ages. This is a novel that you can read to little children, and when they are older they can read by themselves, and when they are really older they can still read to themselves, or to their children. Some books are classics for all people and this story aptly falls into that group.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 August 2014
There can't be a child alive now who actually reads this book in ignorance of the Disney film. And I count myself here too. Anybody reading this will have their reading of it coloured by Julie Andrews and the famous songs and scenes of the film. And this doesn't help the book, in some ways.

I wish I knew how I'd view this story if I'd not seen the film first. I suspect I'd have liked it - it's pretty magical still, with the parrot umbrella, magic medicine and upward banister travel, the ceiling lunch, chalk drawings. But if you're reading this to your child expecting dancing penguins, chimney-top dancing and the moving father-child scenes at the end, think again. Uncle Walt put those in. Sorry.

This is on my son's shelf and I do intend to share it with him when he's old enough. There are some great chapters here that I didn't remember - the midnight zoo and the twins' chapter (Jane and Michael's baby siblings have a chapter of their own which is adorable) are my favourites. I didn't like Mrs Corry at all, a very strange chapter and character that I found disturbing. Bert hardly appears, it's much more a sequence of stories and adventures and around Mary and the children. So it's very different to the film, which apparently (as I can't say I've read any of the others) is based on chapters from several of Travers' volumes.

I would treat them as two different and quite separate things I think. My son is three and a half and wants to see the film (after ad nauseum repeats of the songs in the car) so I know he'll be seeing this before we read it. I know at this age he'll be enchanted by the film whereas the book, which most certainly is a classic of its time will have an appeal when he's older. And I'll be talking to him about the differences between the two and why he thinks Walt Disney changed things.

Mary Poppins is a contradiction in the book - still vain and snooty, but lets her hair down with Bert. And with Sophie Thompson's excellent reading can sound almost common when she forgets herself.

I reread this as an audiobook, and thoroughly enjoyed it this way. The narration was excellent, beautifully English. I expect Travers would approve. I was spurred to read it again by 'Saving Mr Banks', the recent film. Maybe the whole series of Poppins books needs to be read to understand her a little better, but I did get a good feel for the period, the middle class family, and the gentle magic that I'm sure enchanted readers long before Walt persuaded her to allow him his penguins.

Has to be read. But don't let the film spoil it for you.
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on 13 February 2016
Mary Poppins is the nanny that everybody wishes they had as a young child. The chance to visit a zoo where the humans are the attraction, going around the world with a magical compass, people that float with joy, not to mention the fact that Mary herself can travel into the world of paintings. I love the film and have since a very young age so I wasn't sure how I would feel about the book. I knew it would be fairly different, especially as P L Travers disagreed with so much of Walt Disney's version of her story, but I still fell in love with Mary Poppins all over again. I can still feel the same stern but loveable character from the film but this time I went on extra adventures with her. A really lovely and easy to read book.
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on 12 January 2016
The film is a travesty on this exquisite book. Mary Poppins was no Julie Andrews, as readers well know. She was possibly able to be compared to Imogene Coca, if we want a more accurate visual before buying this. Wit, wonderful writing and for sure a fore ever classic, do your self a favor and buy this and then read it aloud to your children. They will remember you as long as memory lasts for the time you spent with them and a real delight.
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on 30 October 2012
I bought this on Kindle, on impulse really, to see how the book compared with the musical and the film, which PL Travers supposedly disliked so much that she refused to give Disney the rights to a sequel. Given that, I was surprised at how faithful the film is. Obviously there are variations in the plot, but the feel is quite similar, and if anything the film had a greater sense of continuity compared to the episodic style of the book, and the different strands in the film make more narrative sense and feel more cohesive.

Mary Poppins is a little more severe in the novel, but otherwise the characters are more or less the same. The novel is an entertaining children's book, told with considerable imagination, but it is simply a children's book. It has charm but (naturally) is dated and rather contrived. Well worth a look though for those who want to see the origins of a classic film.
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on 12 January 2016
A really fun and easy read. Once I got into it I couldn't put it down. Word of warning to the film fans, the film changed quite a bit from the book so if you're hoping this is going to be the same then you'll be found wanting, that said, the characters are brilliant if just a little darker and Mary Poppins has a real air of mystery.
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on 5 March 2015
I love Mary Poppins it was the very 1st hard covered book I read and I loved the little drawings too. I read this book during World War 2. I would like too get that original book it would make my day. At age 81yrs I must be in my 2nd childhood.
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