Escaping with Mary Poppins

Like the Julie Andrews’ movie version, Mary Poppins in the book classic by P.L. Travers is fun, funny, and good at taking care of children. However, she is not glamorous at all. Here’s how the talking Starling in John and Barbara’s story, one of my favorites in the book, describes Mary:

“She’s special, you see. Not in the matter of looks, of course. One of my own day-old chicks is handsomer than Mary P. ever was —”

It seems that the baby twins can hear the Starling talk, but once they turn one, they can no longer understand the bird. Mary Poppins, however, is special, and she can understand the bird.

Another one of these stories that I enjoyed was called Bad Tuesday. Michael, the boy in the story, wakes up with a “curious feeling” and all day long is bad, bad, bad. He knocks over the housemaid’s hot water jug and kicks the banister as he goes down the stairs, knowing perfectly well he will wake up the household in the process.

The door of his Father’s study stood open…so Michael did a forbidden thing. He went in, sat down at his Father’s desk, and his Father’s pen began to scribble on the blotter. Suddenly his elbow, knocking against the inkpot, upset it, and the chair and the desk and the quill pen and his own best clothes were covered with great spreading stains of blue ink….

“That child must be ill,” said Mrs. Banks…
“I’m not ill. I’m weller than you,” said Michael rudely.

The truth is, I was a little disappointed with the end of the chapter, when Michael got a glass of milk from Mary Poppins and seemed to revert to being good.

Here’s the letter Mary leaves for Jane at the end of the book, when the wind changes so she flies off with her umbrella:

Dear Jane,
Michael had the compass so the picture is for you. Au Revoir.
Mary Poppins

And so Jane asks Mrs. Brill, who responds, “Au Revore, dearie? Why doesn’t that mean—let me see, I’m not up in these foreign tongues—doesn’t it mean ‘God Bless You’? No, no, I’m wrong. I think, Miss Jane, dear, it means To Meet Again.”

And so I probably will take another Mary Poppins book out of the library, as she says she will come back to those children, and I really enjoyed this first book.

9 thoughts on “Escaping with Mary Poppins

  • You’ve just given me the idea for our next bedtime read-alouds. Finished the whole Laura Ingalls Wilder series (okay so we skimmed farmer Boy) and 3 E.B. White’s. Had never read the Trumpet of the Swan before — brilliant! I think it would make a wonderful movie.

    So Mary Poppins next will be it! Thanks!

    (P.S. I now have a couple of Mp3s up on my site, for that “I Need A Man” musical I’m writing. (They are in today’s post.) If you’re feeling down, listen to them they should perk you right up!

  • I haven’t read it, but I think the chapter ending you found disappointing sends a positive message. Michael acted badly. No one approved of what he was doing, but he wasn’t harshly punished either. He was accepted as he is, sometimes bad and sometimes good. Sometimes we have to let things go, and a harsh reaction is counterproductive.
    Forgive me if I misunderstood your objection.

  • Mother in Israel, I just found the chapter where one day he’s bad, the next day he’s good to be unrealistic. (In my experience, kids acted “bad” is a way of getting attention, when they are craving it. They usually keep acting bad, unless somehow the adults figure out a new way of reacting to the “bad”). I like your response to it. Sometimes ignoring some actions of kids is a good idea.

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