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Mary Poppins (Odyssey Classics) Paperback – September 15, 1997


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 5
  • Series: Odyssey Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Revised edition (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152017178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152017170
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (338 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For all her offended sniffs and humphs, Mary Poppins is likely the most exciting nanny England--and the world--has ever seen. Young Jane and Michael Banks have no idea what's in store for them when Mary Poppins blows in on the east wind one autumn evening. Soon, though, the children are having tea on the ceiling, flying around the world in a minute (visiting polar bears and hyacinth macaws on the way), and secretly watching as their unusual nanny pastes gold paper stars to the sky. Mary's stern and haughty exterior belies the delightful nonsense she harbors; her charges, as well as her literary fans, respect and adore her.

Grownups who have forgotten Mary Poppins's true charms will be tickled pink to rediscover this uniquely unsentimental fantasy. Younger readers will walk into Mary's world without batting an eye--of course the animals in the zoo exchange places with people on the night of the full moon. Certainly a falling star landing on a cow's horn will make her dance ceaselessly. Why wouldn't one be able to enter into a chalk picture? The only disappointing aspect of this classic is that it doesn't go on forever! (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-P.L. Travers' story of the Banks children and their unconventional nanny (Harcourt, 1934) has long been popular with adults and children. This version is read by English actress Sophie Thompson, who does a wonderful job providing voices for a multitude of characters. Through her characterization, we can actually see the proper Mary, Cockney Bert, innocent Jane and Michael Banks, the exuberant Uncle Albert, and the shrill pigeon lady. Listeners are afforded a glimpse of turn-of-the-century London. Although the story's primary emphasis is on plot and the characterization of the Banks' children's' relationship with their nanny, some thumbnail socio-economic insights are available. Although written over 60 years ago, the message still rings true. Disappointingly, in this version, the Mary Poppins who delighted audiences with her antics and love for her charges has become a rigid disciplinarian who gives affection to these neglected children grudgingly. The aural quality is very good, and the narration is true to the printed word. This solid production would be a strong purchase for libraries seeking to meet requests for various formats of this title, or for those libraries with large audiotape collections.
Tricia Finch, North Port Public Library, North Port, FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

I loved this book when I first read it over 40 years ago.
A. Johansen
I, like so many who enjoyed the movie by Disney, was curious how the actual book read compared to the movie.
Michael Maloney
The book and the illustrations will give children and adults alike a wonderful experience.
Emma Peale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reading the books that I loved as a child was wonderful - until I realized that it had been edited to make it more socially acceptable. The chapter called "Bad Tuesday" involves a magical compass that transports the characters all over the world. The original work used the author's vision of what the people would be like, and had used some pretty offensive stereotypes of the time. But the altered version completely changed the story, not only using animals instead of people, but changing even the storyline. Would have liked to be able to see the original work also, or at least been warned that the newer version was altered to that extent.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Justine Justine the Drama Queen on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The entire Mary Poppins book series by the wonderful P.L. Travers is fantastic. I'm so glad to see they have finally arrived in hardcover with the original covers. No, this is not the sugary Disney movie--but this, the original story, will take your breath away with its magic and wonder. Give it a try. I think if you take these stories for what they are you will appreciate the wit and the adventure.
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77 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 28, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I cannot completely explain the attraction of Pamela Travers' tale of Mary Poppins, nanny extraordinaire. But 48 years later, and Julie Andrews notwithstanding, I still found myself nodding and smiling as I read the book. Strange things just happen around Mary. You can wander into paintings and travel the world with a magic compass. Laughter makes you fly and the animals in the zoo will celebrate your birthday if you're nice. All at Mary Poppins' whimsy.
Growing up in the U.S., with no concept of what a nanny was, I still loved her right away. What is odd about this is that she actually isn't all that likable. She is quite vain and very, very bossy. She says 'no' a lot, and rarely stops to explain herself or reveal her secrets. Yet somehow you know that she will never let you down and she always will do what she says. Young Jane and Michael (and the even younger twins) couldn't ask for a better guide and protector. In a family where the father is most often at work 'in the city' and the mother is loving but a trifle inept, Mary is the glue that keeps things working together.
The book is actually a series of short tales of a fantastical nature. Sometimes the tale contains the requisite grain of wisdom and sometimes it is just silly fun. Perhaps the willingness to be light hearted is what charms young listeners. In addition to those already mentioned, there is the tale of the dancing cow, and a touching explanation of why we cannot talk to birds. Even though the book is quite readable for an 8 or nine year old, it is really best for being read to children. The adventures should be appealing to almost any child and the pen and ink sketches are a delight to look at.
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142 of 170 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on December 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Who WAS Mary Poppins, anyway? Well, as one who grew up with P.L. Travers' fabulous books, I can tell you who she was not. She did not give medicine with a spoonful of sugar, she was not a nauseatingly sweet airhead with an umbrella, and--guess what--she was NOT A NICE PERSON!
Which is exactly why I and my friends loved her. Other reviewers have found all kinds of hidden meanings, from satanism to British racism, to describe this and the other Mary Poppins books, probably because of the shock of finding that the real thing has so much more depth than the sickening movie version.
As a child in the 50s, I had no notion of British sensibilities or history, no clue about so-called satanism, and my sweet little child mind was ripe for all kinds of dire cult messages. But somehow, what I gleaned from these books was the best kind of adventure: an adult who wasn't really a parent, wasn't really a teacher, was definitely in charge--and yet strange magical things constantly happened in her presence. There were lessons to be learned: if Jane and Michael, the older children, misbehaved, the magic went awry. Badly awry. There was danger. There were consequences to their actions. Have a tantrum, and you just might wind up on the wrong end of an antique plate--trapped inside with no way out. Be rude to adults and other children, and your nice little world will change in ways you don't want to know about. But always, in the end, Mary Poppins was there to save the day without saying "I told you so." She was what so many modern children sorely lack: a strong parent figure. There was no spoiling, no giving in to whining demands (who would dare whine at Mary Poppins anyway?), and no indulgence. But there was also love and protection and security.
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66 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Debra Hamel VINE VOICE on July 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
There must have been fans of P.L. Travers's Mary Poppins who were unhappy when the Disney movie based on the book was released in 1964. Changes made to a story when translating it to film can be jarring and are often for the worse. Movies are so often paler versions of the novels that preceded them. But in this case the reverse is true: Walt Disney's classic film is much, much better than the original book. Readers coming to the book after seeing the movie will, I think, be bored and disappointed with Travers's story.

The character of Mary Poppins in the original book is similar to her portrayal in the movie: she is proper and vain and easily irritated; she possesses magical powers whose limit and source are never explained; she is wont to play mind games with the children. In the book, however, despite the children's affection for her, she is not a particularly likable character. It is easier to like the softer-edged Mary Poppins of the movie. Apart from its portrayal of Mary Poppins herself, the book differs markedly from the movie. Some of the differences are insignificant: in the novel there are four Banks children rather than two--Jane and Michael have a pair of twin siblings who are about a year old; Mrs. Banks in the book does not spend her time cavorting with suffragettes; Travers's Bert is not a chimney sweep. The most important difference, however, is this: the story that Travers tells lacks a story arc. Mary Poppins comes to the Banks's home at the beginning of the book. She leaves at the end. The intervening episodes are filler: the chapters could be rearranged or omitted without any loss to the storyline. This in itself would be okay, if less than ideal, except that the middle episodes are, many of them, excruciatingly boring.
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