Mary Poppins is one of my favourite films. Growing up I watched it a million times—or at least I feel like I watched it a million times. It was fun, and beyond imaginative, with a soundtrack I can still sing word for word. Mary Poppins was awesome and I remember being so enraptured by her. She had a bottomless purse! Her medicine tasted like candy and changed colours! She had friends who had tea while sitting on the ceiling! She could travel to other world’s through artwork and she taught me one the longest words I’ve ever known: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
So needless to say I was expecting something similar from the book, and I was left pretty disappointed. In the book—the inspiration for the film—Mary is self absorbed and rude. And not in any way that was remotely funny or endearing, well at least not to me. I mean I know she said ” She was practically perfect in every way,” but when Julie Andrews said it I smiled, in the book her vanity was irritating:
- Marry sighed with pleasure, however, when she saw three of herself, each wearing a blue coat with silver buttons and a blue hat to match. She thought it was such a lovely sight that she wished there had been a dozen of her or even thirty. The more Mary Poppinses the better.
- “I wish we were invisible,” said Michael, when Mary Poppins had told him that the very sight of him was more than any self-respecting person could be expected to stand.
- But the winter afternoons, she knew, were short, and they had to be home by tea time. So with a sigh she wrenched herself away from her glorious reflection.
Blah. If I could compare this to another children’s book—but a book that got it right, it would be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That book was filled with wonder, great characters in both film (I prefer the 1971 version) and book format. I know not every children’s book has to have loveable characters, but I’ll put it this way, if I read the book first, I probably wouldn’t have had any interest in seeing the film. I don’t think I’ll read the second book in the series either, since I could barely get into the first.