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am 25. Juni 2000
P.L. Travers' original deptiction of Mary Poppins is NOT anything like Julie Andrews' cheerful, smiling character in the classic Disney movie. Instead, this nanny is very proper, stern and strict, a model of British efficiency, complete with a stiff upper lip. Only on rare occasions does her steely exterior give way and we get a glimpse of her heart of gold.
Yet, this gruffed up version of magical, mysterious Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way. You won't need a spoonful of sugar to get kids to read this classic. Harry Potter can't compete with Mary's timeless appeal or her supercalifragilisticexpialadocious (did I spell it right?) magic powers; she's every bit as wonderous as you remember from years ago. Mary Poppins flies in on her parrot-head umbrella, straight into your heart.
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am 4. Juli 2000
When adults forget their childhood pals, daydreamers make foolish wishes and the wind blows unusually strong, it always leads to something quite out of the ordinary -- that is, whenever Mary Poppins is around.
In this, the final Mary Poppins book that P.L. Travers gave us before her death at age 90, we share the five Banks' childrens' adventures. Besides Jane and Michael, who were in the classic Disney movie, there are also toddler twins John and Barbara and infant Annabel.
A big departure from the Disney flick is Mary Poppins herself. Here, she is not the smiling, syrupy sweet nanny that young Julie Andrews portrayed; rather, the book's title character is strict, stern, often sarcastic and very taken with herself. Her strong personality makes her a unique storybook character and readers will find this Mary Poppins more of an enigma. Which, frankly, makes for better stories.
Everything in this book is G-rated but not preachy. Travers gives her young readers many fascinating, but never frightening, fantasy situations. Or are they real? Jane and Michael can never quite tell. The lines between what's real and what's not always blur around Mary Poppins.
This book is a series of unrelated chapters, self-contained stories, all dealing with the same main characters. Nothing is ever as it seems in the nursery of No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane -- or in the nearby park.
On a hot summer's day, Mary Poppins tells the children a tale of a hobo who was an angel in disguise, shedding his rags and growing wings as he flies away.
In another chapter, Michael, upset that he's caught a cold, finds that some days when everything seems to be going all right, it's actually going all wrong. He's taught a valuable lesson on a planet full of cats.
Later in the book, the children find messages on falling leaves. And witness a delightful, but not frightening, Halloween shadow dance in the park.
The nanny's magical cousin, Mr. Mo, is introduced. Jane finds the little toy figures she's created and destroyed do have lives of their own.
Around Mary Poppins, adults -- including favorites such as Admiral Boom, Miss Lark and her two dogs Andrew and Willoughby, the Bird Woman and Bert -- are caught off balance. Zookeepers, policemen and taxi drivers react to a flurry of frenzied events. Characters pop out of storybooks, out of Jane's mind, and off ceramic bookends. Lions and unicorns and even Indian chiefs prance through the park.
We are taken to worlds that exist between the blades of grass in the lawn, and up in the sky, to where felines and children disappear. There are traffic snarls, wedding breakfasts and birthday parties. And through it all, stalks Mary Poppins, with not a hair out of place. In very short order, characters get what they deserve, if not what they expect, and things are set right.
How does she do it? No one knows. Mary Poppins, you see, never, ever explains. But, she always entertains. Have some fun in the park with this magical nanny.
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am 1. Dezember 1999
I bought a copy of this book when I was 9. I read it , loved it, but as any child would, eventually lost it. As I was going through a pile of stuff in the attic the other day, I came across it once again. The pages were yellowed and torn, and the spine was falling apart, but the story never lost its magic. I was engrossed in the characters' every move, and I actually cried when the book reached its end. I would recommend Mary Poppins for readers of all ages, for it is a work of art that leaves memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.
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am 26. August 1999
It may seem that the summary of my review ("A book for adults as well as for children") is applicable to all the great children's books, and that is largely true. But I was amazed, when re-reading "Mary Poppins" recently (at the age of 39), to discover what a different book it is for a grownup. The book is through the children's eyes, and to a child it is about their magical nanny. But to me on re-reading it, the book was about the children. Their nanny is a woman their parents would consider rather ordinary, in fact quite common, a cockney. Her extraordinary stature in the children's eyes is due both to their seeing what their parents miss and to their considerable lack of understanding of what is going on. The Star Child, for example, is really a desperately poor girl who cheerfully wears rags. And no adult has ever had any trouble understanding why Mary's uncle couldn't stop laughing. I like the Disney movie a lot, but it has little to do with this book.
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am 20. November 1998
Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back were among my favorite childhood books. Indeed, I still have my childhood edition, which contained both volumes, minus its covers and completely worn out with reading and reading again. You can imagine my delight to find the books reissued. I made sure my husband knew to buy them for me for Christmas last year. However, someone did see fit to change the chapter Bad Tuesday, in which Michael finds a compass which Mary Poppins uses to take them around the world. I suppose it was meant to make the book politically correct, but what gave the person who did that the right? It is too bad that today's young readers will not get to read the book as written.
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am 11. November 1999
I think it is a good book for all ages. I'm only eight but I think it was way better than the movie. The part I liked best was when the animals got out of their cages.
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am 27. Juli 1997
Mary Poppins is a fabulously funny book about a nanny named Mary Poppins who comes down from the skies. She is hired at 17 Cherry Tree Lane to nanny Jane, Micheal, John and Barbara. With fresh imaginative ideas like goin 'round the world with a compass or jumping into a chalk pavement picture, 'Mary Poppins' is a woderful fantasy thrill that is simply magic
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am 13. September 1998
P.L. Travers was a friend of the poet AE, and is versed in Eastern thought, and I think this really comes through in the Mary Poppins books. They are not cute, although Disney has done its best to reduce them to that. The books are, in a very understated English way, about the nature of reality and our perception of it. These stories can be read on many different levels, which is part of their enduring charm and mystery. Yes, Jane and Michael and the twins are sweet. Yes, Mary is proper and then surprising by rapid turn. Yes, the nursery has the serene and comforting glow of the evening fire about it. But behind the scenes, the dance of the universe unfolds.
I kid you not; read some Zen philosophy and some Hindu theology and you'll see what I'm going on about.
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am 10. Oktober 1998
Some forgotten but wise relative gave me the complete set of Mary Poppins books when I was a child, and I must have read them all a dozen times. Like the Pooh stories, they are so much better in the original than in the Disneyfied versions that it's a shame most kids will grow up only knowing the latter. Delightful, mysterious, exciting, and just shivery enough in parts to be utterly irresistable to the ten-year-old mind.
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am 6. Juni 1999
If all you know of Mary Poppins is the Disney version, you owe it to yourself to read about the real Mary Poppins, who is very different! This book is really magical. Mary Poppins is a truly mystical figure, even a little scary. You will not forget her. I also enjoyed the setting of this book very much---Edwardian England. The whole Mary Poppins series is consistantly great.
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