Sunday, August 6

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are his and no monetary compensation was offered to him by the publisher. Cover art is copyright HMH Books for Young Readers.

If you wish to read a book about a sweet, kindly nanny, who is always doting and never cross – this book is not for you.

Mary Poppins is a boss. She is a no-nonsense narcissist who believes in "my way or the highway."

Fortunately, the way of Mary Poppins – strict though she may be – is paved with wonder. With her, the Banks children go on many adventures and meet extraordinary characters along the way.

The number of strangers who talk to Jane and Michael Banks as if they're old friends is alarming. I hate being accosted. When someone has the nerve to walk up to me, I instantly want to curl up into a ball and reclaim my personal space. These fictional characters may not have broken the fourth wall but they still managed to make me feel very uncomfortable.

Mary Poppins reminds me a little of Holly Golightly. She is every bit herself, she does what she pleases, she draws people to her, and she can't be tied down. Of course, Holly has charisma to go around. Poppins' soft side is reserved for her man-friend, Bert. Poor Bert. His name is Bert. There's a reason I don't shorten my name to Bert!

Mary Poppins is also a major troll. She takes these children on wonderful adventures, and when they talk about them later, or seek to ask further questions, she acts as if she has no idea what they're talking about. Causing children to feel like no one will believe what they have to say, and prompting them to question their own sanity, is detrimental to their development. Way to go, Poppins.

The book is somewhat spoiled by racist gems like "Two tiny black babies in one cradle – are they chocolate, do you think, or china?" and "You will not behave like a Red Indian, Michael." It's to be expected of a book published in the 1930s, but I still turn up my nose to it.

I listened to 'Mary Poppins' on audio, read by Sophie Thompson. She is a fab narrator. I will definitely listen to more Poppins if it is read by her!

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