It may come as a surprise to many of you, but up until the other day, I have never read Mary Poppins.
Shocking, actually. How can one profess to be the biggest Mary Poppins fan (never just Mary) and never have read the book or books?
When I was 6, I lived in Yellowknife, NWT AKA the Arctic in Canada. Yes it was cold, yes it was dark, yes there wasn’t much going on up there. My mom and dad were great lovers of musicals. On Saturdays (house cleaning day) Mom would open up the cabinate stereo and pile 6 albums on to the turntable for endless music. If it was November, it would be Andy Williams Christmas, Catherine McKinnon Christmas, Dean Martin Christmas, Bing Crosby Christmas, Burl Ives Christmas and a Christmas mix of Mel Tormé et al. If it was any other month other than November or December, we listened to the sound tracks to The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man and of course, Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I knew every word to every song on that album, both sides. I would read the liner notes and look at the photos on the back of the album. I had no idea what the story was about, but I wanted to see it.
My first musical was a Northern Production of Fiddler on the Roof. This had me enchanted with musicals. If I loved Mary Poppins half as much as Fiddler on the Roof, I knew I would be in toe tapping heaven.
My family had a long standing tradition to see a movie on the last day of school. It lasted until…well it is still happening. I take my kids now on the last day of school even though they usually go to movies now with friends, the “Last Day of School Movie” is still important to them, and that makes me happy. When I was six, the movie theatre (singular, one movie screen) was showing a re-run of Mary Poppins in Yellowknife. The Arctic never got first run anything…ever…. Even football and hockey games came up north by truck in a film can a week later.
My Dad was helping get into my jacket and we had been practicing all the songs for the movie to make sure I knew them..oh I knew them alright, I even knew the spoken dialogue parts. We piled out the door and walked to the movies, Me, Mom and Dad and my baby brother who was 4. We were STOKED!
I sat throught the entire showing wide eyed and enchanted.
Mary Poppins was magnificent! But why had she not ever come to my house? From that day forward, I would wish for her on an evening star.
I have since watched that movie a gajillion times, purchased every possible bit of merchandise available – and trust me, there isn’t very much! I have a Mary Poppins Mug of her flying over the roof tops of London in silhouette, I have a parrot umbrella and I have the Arthur Penguin Magnet. I regret not buying the Mr. Potato Head with Mary Poppins parts when I saw it at Walt Disney World, I figured it would be at another store closer to where the hotel was…but no chance. I have since looked for it every time and no luck. That is my biggest collector regret.
I know trivia that can win tickets to anything. I know dialogue that impresses even the finest dialog aficionado. I have stalked Mary Poppins and Bert at both Disney Parks in the US. Last week when I was in the Park, I saw the two of them walking off stage, I stopped, yelled and waved “HI BERT!!!! HI MARY POPPINS!!! I LOVE YOU!” I waved wildly like I was four. They both stopped and waved back, then Bert called me over. I ran like I was PRing for the Boston Marathon. I threw my phone at the Trusty Steed and I clung to Bert as if we were just married. sigh………………..
Mary Poppins and my Boyfirend
He whispered into my ear that they would be in front of the castle at 1:00 PM and at 2! SQUEEEEEEE I had never had the chance to see the Pearly Band and now I had my chance!!!
I celebrated the fact that Bert loves me and personally invited me to watch him perform by having my very first Ghirardelli sundae in the chalk painting style.
We made it to the castle for 2:00 PM. At 2:01 The Trusty Steed was calling Bert a liar. But then the band started marching towards the Castle and there they were…Mary Poppins and Bert dancing, marching and singing with the Pearly Band. I was standing in the front row surrounded by 4 year olds. I was NOT giving up my spot for some kid who wasn’t personally invited by Bert.
When Mary Poppins saw me, she said “Lovely to see you again”! But when Bert saw me he WINKED ! OH YA! BERT WINKED AT ME!! Eat THAT Brenda, PROOF BERT IS MINE!!
It was definitely a Jolly Holiday!
I am so excited about the new movie “Saving Mr. Banks” and have been watching all the trailers and videos I can get my hands on. I learned the movie used the actual recorded audio tapes of P.L. Travers for the film. Since the film is about the books as much as the movie, I thought I better read the book so I can be better prepared for the movie when it comes out. I like to do my research and be in the know. At the very least, understand the background.
I had always avoided the book because Books and Movies rarely work well together. One always destroys the other for me and I really didn’t want this to happen for my beloved Mary Poppins. The reviews on Good Reads were mixed. One said that the book was butchered by Disney and made into an atrocious film…yikes. Was the movie that different?
I downloaded it onto my iPad and remembered it was a children’s book of 190 pages. Okay, not a problem. I should easily whiz through it and if I hate it…so be it. Julie Andrews will forever be my Mary Poppins.
I was astounded at how closely the events of the movie followed the events in the book. Obviously there was additional things in the movie that never happened in the book, but to be fair, I have only read the first volume. There are several more. The book gave Jane and Michael Banks twin siblings, Barbara and John – Babies who speak in a language that animals, the wind, the sun and Mary Poppins all understand. The book had adventures that the Musical had but not the movie, but there was Tea Parties on the Ceiling, Feeding the Birds with the Bird Woman and Jumping in chalk drawings. Bert was an obvious suitor for Mary Poppins only he was the Match Man, jack of all trades and Sunday Sidewalk artist.
The Carpet bag was empty and full at the same time like the movie and Mary Poppins traveled by talking umbrella and slid up banisters. Admiral Boom lived down the street and Andrew the dog could talk to Mary Poppins…just like the movie.
There was enough differences to make me enjoy the book, but there was enough similarities to make me smile with delight.
I loved it and am now sad I never read it to my children when they were little.
I guess there is always the chances to read it to my grandchildren…and favorite nieces.
I rate P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins 5 stars and now am more anxious than ever to see Saving Mr. Banks.
I have to say I was delighted.