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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mary Poppins in the Park - P. L. Travers

When I was young, and we still lived in Portland, about a block away from the local elementary school, which also contained the local branch library, my mother, sister and I would walk up there seemingly all the time.    We would get picture books, and my mother would get more complicated chapter books that she would read to us before bed.   The Mary Poppins books were one of those bed time series.

If you’ve seen the movie, I will tell you that the books are different.    They’re just not quite so – well, let’s be honest – Disney-fied.      They’re very British, and in this reread, I see that they’re old enough to have some very casual racism thrown in.   (For instance, I thought that the eeny, meeny, miny mo song involved catching a tiger.    Evidently, that’s an updated version.)   So be aware of that if you decide to wade in.    That being said, I remember loving these books, and they hold up pretty well.    There’s an amazing sense of magic to them – in just the way that a child would think makes perfect sense.

I grabbed this particular book when I saw it used, because it contains the episode I remember best of any Mary Poppins book.    There’s always in instance where they leave the real world, and in this case, they suddenly find themselves in a tiny little village that Jane had just built out of sticks and other detritus found where they were sitting in the park.    I don’t quite know why that has always stuck with me so strongly, but it was definitely as delightful as I remember it.

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