Welcome to week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of Mary Poppins.
How did you feel about the first section? There are definitely a couple of big differences between the book version and the movie version starring Julie Andrews. The first major difference is that there are more Banks children in the book than there are in the movie! Were you surprised that Jane and Michael had younger twin siblings? Why do you think the movie left out John and Barbara? Do you think the movie would have felt really cluttered if it had four children?
Another big change was the outing in chapter 2. In the book, Mary Poppins and Bert go on the adventure into the painting alone without the children. They do ride on a carousel, just like in the movie, but they aren't served and entertained by penguin waiters. Even though the animated penguins in the movie were a huge hit with viewers, P.L. Travers wasn't a fan. In fact, she did not like much of Walt Disney's adaptation, a fact this article from The Saturday Evening Post explains well. What do you think after reading the first section? Do you think that Walt Disney faithfully recreated the character of Mary Poppins on the screen, or do you think he completely missed her spirit and character?
At the end of the Laughing Gas chapter, Mary Poppins tries to convince the children that her uncle did not float up to the ceiling, and she tells them that she is offended by the idea that they all had tea on the ceiling. Why do you think she would do that? What kind of lesson is she trying to teach the children? In the next chapter, she attempts to convince the children that she can't speak to dogs, even though they can clearly hear her talking with Andrew from next door. Why do you think she keeps trying to make the children think she's not magical? What did you think of Andrew and the fact that he wanted to live with troublesome dog? Did that chapter give you some Lady and the Tramp vibes? It seemed like a bit of a similar story.
In the version that I read, chapter 6, in which Mary Poppins and the children use a magical compass to travel the world and meet a variety of animals, was labeled the "Revised version." I was, of course, curious why this chapter had to be revised. A blog post from the science-fiction publisher Tor explains that in the original version, they met people, but Travers received enough complaints over the stereotypical depictions and language that she eventually revised the chapter.
Which one of the chapters in this section was your favorite? Did you feel like the story flowed together well, or did you feel like it was almost like reading a book of short stories? What do you think of the book version of the Mary Poppins character? Do you wish she were a little nicer?
If you want to learn more about P.L. Travers and her relationship to Walt Disney, watch this clip with scenes from Saving Mr. Banks. It gives some great historical detail.
I hope you enjoyed this first section and are excited to read the rest of the book for next week. I look forward to reading your comments!