Mary Poppins – PL Travers (1934)


Today, many of us base our thoughts of Mary Poppins on Disney’s beloved version, starring Julie Andrews in the titular role. PL Travers, however, did NOT originally imagine her in this way. Yes, she flew into children’s lives with her parrot handled umbrella, and true, she fixed the family by saving the parents from themselves, but whilst Disney’s Mary is cheerful and singing, Travers’ Mary is serious and strict. Taking the children through imaginary flights of fancy, such as a zoo run by animals, or a baker’s daughter plucking stars from the sky for her cakes and candies, Mary acted as though the children were absurdly out of their minds should they dare to bring these adventures up to her. The reader wonders if the adventures had truly happened as described, or if the children had simply imposed Mary into their imaginings. Mary Poppins is a fun book, if one lets go of the movie and simply allows this Mary, the Original Mary, to take her place alongside the Mary of many of our childhoods. This story is appropriate for any child, so long as they are willing to sit through the pages without the sketches, and will be loved by those who have outgrown childhood but not the nostalgia for wonderful, classic children’s literature.

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