Friday, November 14, 2014

Mary Poppins 80th Anniversary Edition (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Children and adults alike fell in love with Mary Poppins when they saw the Disney movie. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke's musical and whimsical take on this children's book delighted audiences when it was first released and continues to delight audiences today. Fans of the movie were given a different perspective on Mary Poppins with the Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks. In this movie, we get a Disney-biased look at the author P.L. Travers, her view of the literary character Mary Poppins, and her allowing of the film to be made. Like all "fact-based" movies, Saving Mr. Banks got as much right as it did wrong. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about it, was that it may have opened the eyes of people to read the Mary Poppins books and not just focus solely on the movie. Approximately one month ago, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released a special 80th anniversary edition of Mary Poppins.

The 80th anniversary edition of Mary Poppins is a THICK (over 1000 pages) tome, which contains the first four Mary Poppins books - "Mary Poppins," "Mary Poppins Comes Back," "Mary Poppins Opens the Door," and "Mary Poppins in the Park." To my delight the illustrations are abundant and from the original booksby the o There is also a Foreword written by Gregory Maguire, which I found unnecessary as it just read like an "I met P.L. Travers once" piece, and a closing essay/lecture excerpt by P.L. Travers herself called, "On Not Writing for Children" in which she discusses how though children may love her books, they are not the sole, nor the intended audience. What you will not find in this tome is "Mary Poppins A to Z," "Mary Poppins in the Kitchen," "Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane," and "Mary Poppins and the House Next Door." These last four books consist of a book of vignettes featuring letters in the alphabet, a cookbook of sorts, and two final stories that add little if anything to the series as a whole. They were wise omissions indeed.

The first-time reader familiar with the movies will notice as many similarities as differences between the books. Yes, there are the two children Jane and Michael Banks, as in the movie, but there are also two younger children as well. Bert doesn't play as prominent a role. There's about one chapter where he features prominently. Mary Poppins isn't as "delightful" as she is in the movie. Instead, she is a bit more sarcastic, stern, and doesn't sing catchy tunes like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." She still genuinely cares about the children, and they genuinely love her. Perhaps, there is a bit more fear/respect from the children than the hero worship you see in the movie, but there is definitely a loving relationship there. There's also the familiar scene with Uncle Albert, which is sure to delight readers young and old. One of the big parts where the book is different is the complete change in Mr. Banks. Disney tried to put a nice happy ending on the story, but the Father still remains a bit strict and distant. That's not to say he doesn't love his children, but it didn't have that saccharine sweet ending. Those already familiar with the book will notice that a chapter in the original book was revised to make a compass more politically correct.

The first three books stand on their own, with "Mary Poppins" being the crown jewel, and "Mary Poppins Comes Back," and "Mary Poppins Opens the Door" being iterations of the first book. The last book in this collection, "Mary Poppins in the Park" contains six adventures that happened during the timeframe of the second and third books. If you are a fan of the movie Mary Poppins and would like to know the real story, I highly recommend this book. If you are a fan of the books and your copies are cracked in two and in need of replacing, I recommend this book. If the book size is intimidating for you or your kids, then you might want to get some smaller paperbacks or hardcovers also available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This book was provided to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!