Welcome to Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, London. A prim and proper governess arrives at the Banks’ house on Cherry-Tree Lane clutching a parrot-head handled umbrella and a carpet bag brimming with unexpected adventures. Meet Mary Poppins!
Sophie Thompson reads Mary Poppins with a voice full of wonder. I almost expected the line from Clement C. Moore’s Christmas poem, “When, what to my wondering eyes should appear," as I listened to her describing Mary Poppins’ magical appearance. The wind transports Mary Poppins (she’s always called by her full name) to the front gate of Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane. When she lands, the whole house shakes. Once inside, she slides up the banister. That’s just the beginning.
Mary Poppins not only charmed her way into the hearts and imaginations of the four children in the Banks household, but she has captured the hearts of reader’s since 1934 when Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers was first published. If you are familiar with the Disney version of Mary Poppins, you may be surprised at the tone in the original stories. Mary Poppins does not coddle the children in her care. Michael Banks states he hates being good to which Mary Poppins answers that he got up on the wrong side of the bed. He argues with her about which side of the bed is the wrong side. She nails him: “Both sides were the wrong side this morning, Mr. Smarty!”We know there are no ladders we can climb to place the stars in the sky, no magic compasses like the one that transports Michael on exotic trips around the world when he has a bad day. Our laughter does not lift us off the ground and into the air to have tea and crumpets a la Mary Poppins’ dear Uncle Albert. But, it is fun to think about what would happen if . . .