Drew Graham's Reviews > Mary Poppins Comes Back

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers
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Sep 18, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: me
Read from September 17 to 20, 2011

This book has more or less the same pros and cons as the first, but I was a little more vexed by them this time because it was a second book's worth of them. In fact, I think my first review might have been colored a little by having read this one too, since I wrote it after reading both. Some of that indignation probably belongs here. I wanted to believe that the sequel would be more pleasant, but not so. In any case, this is another random string of adventures involving Mary Poppins and the Banks household. The children are still charming (including the new addition of Annabel), the parents are still useless and blithering, there are even hints that certain members of the staff are also somehow magical or something, and Mary Poppins is still cross and priggish and mean and glaring. If there were just the slightest hint that she actually cared about these children, I might be able to get on board, but she's just so unpleasant. I don't think the kids need to be coddled by their nanny, but they're practically mistreated. There are hints that Mary Poppins can be a wonderful, charming person (dancing in the stars, upside-down tea parties, though never in relation to the kids), but then they're squashed when she immediately turns on anyone who dares intimate that anything extraordinary could possibly have happened, despite the hints that inevitably turn up on the last page of every chapter. The magic is still kind of fun to read in parts, but there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it (like, who IS Mary Poppins? WHAT is she?), though it's not too hard to just go with that element at least and realize that magic doesn't always have to be explained. We see a couple more glimpses of elements used in the movie and stage musical in this book, including the fearsome Miss Andrew, the former nanny of Mr. Banks. Her presence would be a lot more formidable if Mary Poppins provided more of a contrast, but instead she's just another brand of unpleasant, and Mary Poppins only dismisses her (in the way only Mary Poppins can) because Miss Andrew offends her. Oh, horror!!! Never mind the horrible things she says to the kids or Mrs. Banks. Also, I don't really understand why or how, but there are quite a few pretty inexcusable typos I noticed in this one... The illustrations are still fun-the one of Miss Andrews is inspired.

In the end, more of the same, really. The very ending kind of won me back over, enough to at least pick up the third in the series, but I'm not holding my breath for Mary Poppins to pull out any spoonfuls of sugar any time soon.
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Reading Progress

09/19/2011 page 144
49.0%
03/01/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by John (new)

John Beeler What about the moment where Mary Poppins gives up her scarf to save Jane from the scary Great-Grandfather?

What I love about Mary Poppins is that she is decidedly against the notion that children are at the center of the universe. How decidedly unmodern in the age of the hover-parents!

And yet at the same time she cares greatly for the children. The most important thing to Mary Poppins is her vanity, represented by the scarf, and yet she gives that up at a moment's notice to save Jane from her own depression.

Mary Poppins as a character suggested that caring doesn't always equal nice.


Drew Graham Yeah, it's pretty clear that she doesn't really care for the children. She takes care of them, but that's not the same thing. She doesn't have to be nice all the time, but she probably shouldn't be toxic.


Orinthia Yeah. She's really mean. I couldn't stand it if I had to live with her.


Laura John made a pretty clear argument and you just repeated yourself... okay.

I do agree that she drives me crazy, but for this book I think I was just more used to it so I wasn't as bothered by it. The kids know that she loves them, which is obvious from their love of her and not wanting her to go. I think the point of these books is that children and adults have different worlds and you eventually need to outgrow it - like in the first book when the twins stop understanding their own language and become regular babies.


Drew Graham I didn't think John made a clear argument, and that I thought that my review said it clearly enough, which is why I repeated myself. I didn't see a need to say something new when a reiteration would suffice.

And yes, I know the book *tells* us the kids like her, but they don't explain *why*. I agree about the different worlds idea, but I don't think MP is a very good segue. It's like someone pulling out the rug from under you when it should be eased slowly as you gradually step off.

Thanks for your comment.


Laura Why do you think he's wrong, though? Why else would Mary Poppins give up her scarf, when she's so incredibly vain?

Not trying to start something, I just want to know your thoughts on it because I can see both sides clearly.


Drew Graham It's a good question, and I'm kind of thinking it's because she DOES do whatever she needs to do to actually take care of the kids, but her behavior and conversation indicates that that's more out of duty and reputation than because she actually cares *about* them (if you see the distinction).

Also, she's so vain that she may just think she can get by just fine without the scarf? I don't know, the truth is it's been a few years and I haven't given it that much thought since then.


Laura Haha that's true, she'll probably just pull out a belt with a shiny buckle on it or something. Sorry if I'm pestering you! You make good points.


Drew Graham No bother at all, thanks for contributing to the conversation!


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