Fiction or Film: Mary Poppins


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“As soon as the shape was inside the gate the wind seemed to catch her up into the air and fling her at the house. It was as though it had flung her first at the gate, waited for her to open it, and then had lifted and thrown her, bag and all, at the front door. The watching children heard a terrific bang, and as she landed the whole house shook.” — “Mary Poppins” P.L. Travers

This is how Mary Poppins was first introduced into the lives of the Banks family on Cherry Tree Lane.

If you are like me and have grown up watching the film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, you are very familiar with the tale that Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers wove.

After reading the first book that the film is based off of “Mary Poppins,” it is clear to see that the two are very different. Part of this is because the film takes bits and pieces from the other books in the series as well.

The Film


Mary takes the children Jane and Michael on many adventures with her close friend Bert. They travel through chalk drawings to have a horse race and tea, visit Uncle Albert for a tea party on the ceiling and feed birds with the bird woman while rescuing their father, Mr. Banks for the cold reality of adulthood.

The cheery musical features several songs by the famous Sherman Brothers like “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Supercalifraglisticexpialidocious” and more.

The Book


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The book is so different. First off there are four Banks children, Jane and Michael and two baby twins, Barbara and John.

The character of Mary Poppins is a little more cold and strict than what she is portrayed as in the film. This was a point of contention with Travers about the film,

In the film Bert plays a bigger role than what he has in the book. In the book he is only in one chapter, where he and just Mary go through one of his chalk drawings for tea.

There are also two other adventures that involve a compass that allows Poppins and the children to travel to different destinations and an unusual night at the zoo.

The book is composed of different vignettes that really don’t flow into a story but are almost stand alone stories.

Which is Better

In my opinion the film is better. While the film has a lot of heart and fun, the book lacks a little warmth. I understand that it was written in a different time so things change.

Have you read the books and seen the movies? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.


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