Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Ill. by Lauren Child. HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN: 9780008289362.
First published in 1934, Mary Poppins was the greatest success of Australian born Pamela Lyndon Travers. It gained a new lease of life when Disney produced a musical movie adaptation in 1964 starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and introducing the world to songs like A Spoonful of Sugar, Chim Chiminee and of course, Supercalifragilisiticexpialidocious. Now, with the release of Mary Poppins Returns, the stories of this magical nanny are being discovered by a new generation and so the publication of a reimagined, abridged edition of the original, beautifully illustrated by Lauren Child, is the perfect way to build a bridge between the movie and its original premise.
When seemingly staid and upright Miss Poppins arrives to be the new nanny for the Banks children - Jane, Michael, and the twins, John and Barbara - it seems that nothing much will change from previous nannies. Good behaviour is encouraged, misbehaviour punished and order and routine are important. But within her stern exterior are some magical powers such as being able to slide up banisters, float in the air, step into pictures, stick stars on the sky, and talk to animals. Mary takes the Banks children on a series of magical adventures, such as using a magical compass to travel around the world, and suddenly the children find themselves forming a relationship with her that they don't have with their busy, neglectful, upmarket parents.
Lauren Child has created an edition of this classic tale that is perfect for this time and generation and which should have pride of place in any collection featuring classics which are being introduced to a new generation. It is excellent as an independent read-aloud but would also be great as a bedtime read-along, introducing younger readers to the concept of novels with chapters that continue the story with the same characters.