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Review: Mary Poppins Comes Back

31 Mar

The second in the series, ‘Mary Poppins Comes Back’ weaves the special magic created by the brilliantly inventive Australian female writer P.L.Travers.

Although first published in the mid 1930’s, it’s stood the test of time, partly due to its language use, partly due to its timeless appeal to our imagination, and partly due to the cinematic and stage revival of Mary Poppins as an iconic figure.

As in other volumes, Mary Poppins arrives (and leaves) in magical circumstances; and, as always, the intervening period is full of magical happenings denied as reality by Mary Poppins herself.

My favourite story from this book concerns the unwanted arrival of Mister Banks’ childhood Governess, Miss Euphemia Andrew, who proves herself to be every bit the ‘Holy Terror’ whom he had earlier described. This provides Mary Poppins with an ideal opportunity to display not only her abundance of bravery, but also her kindness and sense of decency by releasing the lark that the formidable, terrifying Miss Andrew had herself trapped and caged for the preceding two years. Justice is served when Miss Andrew finds herself captured in the tiny cage, and carried off by the lark. On her return, she is forced to humble herself to Mary Poppins, and leaves the family to rejoice at her exit.

Despite her sternness and conceit, Mary Poppins remains an endearing character, a ‘treasure’, to the Banks’ family, and the household always sorely laments her departure.

Some people seem to think that the first volume, ‘Mary Poppins’, is superior: nevertheless ‘Mary Poppins Comes Back’ is,  and remains, a remarkable children’s classic.

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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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