Mary Poppins and P.L. Travers: Books on Screen #SavingMrBanks

This post first ran on Snapshot on January 20, 2007. And then I ran it in March 2009 here in light of the regional tours scheduled for 2009. Now with the release of Saving Mr. Banks, the movie showing the process of getting the movie made, I am running it again.

First we saw the movie.

Then we saw the broadway show.

Now we are reading the book.

It’s a great way to compare and contrast the differences in how a story is told. They are all very different. The movie is the frame of reference for most of us. Julie Andrews is Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke is Bert. Who has gone through life without singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? All thanks to the movie.

The Broadway musical has closed, but it was one of my favorite shows. The producers of the show actually based the musical on the beloved movie, but also adding in details from the book that were taken out, so that it is a more accurate portrayal of P.L. Travers’ magical nanny.

One great thing about this book is that it works well as a read-aloud. P.L. Travers is a fantastic storyteller. The idea that Mary Poppins, complete with umbrella and some type of mysterious magical powers, came to straighten out the Banks family is the same in all three portrayals of the story. Other than that, the book is quite different, so it’s a new experience for everyone.

Because it was written so long ago, there is a bit of advanced vocabulary that would be unfamiliar to a six or seven year old, but other than that, I think that this is the type of book that could be read to younger children all the way up to older readers.

Update: Having experienced all three of the incarnations of Mary Poppins helped me appreciate Saving Mr. Banks even more. I can’t find my copy of the book, but I think that I’m going to download the audiobook so that we can listen to it together as we make our Christmas road trip.

I loved this movie, and I think meeting the truly quirky vision created by P.L. Travers will help you understand her aversion to the Disney-fication of her novel.  Read my review of Saving Mr. Banks over at 5 Minutes for Mom today.

In addition to books, managing editor Jennifer Donovan, loves a good story as told via a movie or TV series — and she LOVES Broadway. She blogs at Snapshot about life with her teen daughter and school-aged son.

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