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Review: Mary Poppins Opens the Door

15 Mar

REVIEW: MARY POPPINS OPENS THE DOOR

It’s been noted before by others: the lack of recognition of Australian origins of the classic ‘Mary Poppins’ volumes. Recent conversations with those of younger years than myself: bears this out.

Pamela Lyndon Travers, real name Helen Lyndon Goff, was born in Maryborough, Queensland, the daughter of an unsuccessful bank manager, Travers Robert Goff. Moving to Bowral, N.S.W. as a child, it’s believed it’s here she evolved the idea of Mary Poppins.

Published in 1944, I first read ‘Mary Poppins Opens the Door’ as a child, more years ago than I care to nominate.

Question is: how does my childhood enchantment stack up against the viewpoint of middle-age?

My first impression is that it’s a true evergreen; that generation after generation will be captivated by the magnetic figure of Mary Poppins, who manages to simultaneously tame and enthrall her young charges, the Banks’ children.

Typically stern, even snappy, she nevertheless beguiles with enviable ease, everyone who comes her way.

Is part of her attraction the fact that she sets the children standards and boundaries?

Be that as it may, it’s surely her magic, her reverence: that propels her to stardom.

There’s a range of stories, including an encounter with the statue, Neleus, that’s briefly transformed into a living, moving child; a Cat that outsmarts a King; parties that see Mary present as an honoured guest. A chapter each, I feel that a few were a tad more drawn out than absolutely necessary.

Nevertheless, this volume is and remains a great choice for children and parents to read together or separately, and discuss.

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