December 16, 2022

#08-265: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins and the children by illustrator Mary
Shepard in the first volume (1934) (Wikipedia)

Note: The popular films about the "magical" Mary Poppins are based on a series of books about a woman who may actually be a witch!

Get Ready: How important is imagination (and fun!) in getting a job done, even a daily task like tidying up a room?

The title character of the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins is a rather mysterious nanny who comes to stay at the home of the Banks family in London. After many other candidates for the job prove to be unsuitable, Mary Poppins descends from the sky holding an umbrella (she's magic!) and bullies her way into the job. In her first meeting with the children, she shows them the fun of tidying up (with music, of course) and the adventure begins.

Over time, they meet some of Mary's magical friends. Bert is a sidewalk chalk artist who takes the children inside one of his drawings; the journey ends when a thunderstorm dissolves the drawing. The next day they meet Bert's Uncle Albert, who laughs so hard he floats up into the air. Later, they dance on rooftops with Bert and a troupe of chimney sweeps.

The children also meet Mr. Banks's boss, the cranky old Mr. Dawes, and their behavior causes Mr. Banks to lose his job. Oddly, under the influence of Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks becomes joyful in the midst of his trouble.

The next day, a change in the wind tells Mary it's time to leave. Mr. Banks is re-employed as a junior partner at the bank, and Mary flies away.

What few of us (Americans, at least!) realized back when the movie was released in 1964 was that the movie was based on a series of books--eight in all, plus some short stories--by an Australian woman named P. L. Travers between 1934 and 1988.

The main character in the books is far stranger than the one in the movie--in fact, speculation holds that she is actually a witch!

Naturally, the books have more time to explore her character and the many strange friends in her circle, including Mrs. Corry, a woman who was a teenager when the world was created (she can also break off her own fingers and turn them into sweets); Mary's cousin Arthur, who suffers from a condition that forces him to do the opposite of what he wants from 3:00 to 6:00 pm on the second Monday of every month; another cousin, Fred, who is given seven wishes on the first New Moon, after the second rainy Sunday, after May 3; a woman who sells magical balloons; a man who is actually the constellation Orion; and many more.

Whether you read the books or see the movie, get to know Mary Poppins!


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. bullies
  2. candidates
  3. chimney sweeps
  4. a constellation
  5. cranky
  6. descends
  7. holds
  8. speculation
  9. a troupe
  10. unsuitable

  1. people wanting a job
  2. group of stars in the sky
  3. maintains; believes
  4. not appropriate
  5. group of performers
  6. bad tempered
  7. guessing; conjecture
  8. pushes someone to do something
  9. comes down
  10. people who clean fireplaces

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 16, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. h; 2. a; 3. j; 4. b; 5. f; 6. i; 7. c; 8. g; 9. e; 10. d