Spit, Spot, A Mary Poppins Comparison

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Spit, Spot, A Mary Poppins Comparison

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The Many Faces of Mary Poppins

Todays article is all about Mary Poppins. I’ll be reviewing some of the most beautiful editions of the books, and will also share a little trivia and discuss some of the differences between the books and the movies.

Author Pamela Lyndon Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in 1899 in Queensland, Australia. However, she spent most of her career in England, working for many years as a journalist. She wrote her first book about Mary Poppins, the magical English nanny, while recuperating from a serious illness, saying it was “to while away the days, but also to put down something that had been in my mind for a long time”.

PL Travers

This first book in the Mary Poppins series introduces the Banks family from Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Banks, their children Jane and Michael, and baby twins John and Barbara. When the children’s nanny storms out in a huff, Mary Poppins arrives at their home, complete with her travelling carpet bag, blown in by a very strong East wind

The Books

mary poppins lauren child

Mary Poppins (UK Ed, Childs)

Illustrator: Lauren Child
Publication: 2018

About the book: One of the most beautiful editions of Travers’ first Mary Poppins book is the UK deluxe edition released in late 2018, illustrated by the lovely Lauren Child. Her art style is instantly recognizable from her series featuring the hugely popular Charlie and Lola, as well as the Clarice Bean series.

Sensitively abridged, this beautiful edition is the perfect way to introduce a new generation to the original Mary Poppins novel.

Where to buy: Book Depository or Amazon

PL Travers Mary Poppins Julia Sarda cover

Mary Poppins (US Ed, Sardà)

Illustrator: Júlia Sardà
Publication: 2018

About the book: A US gift edition was also released in 2018, with artwork by Spanish illustrator Júlia Sardà. It features silver foil on the cover and beautiful artwork that I think reflects a kind of old school Disney magic, presenting Mary’s London in rich, full colour.

Where to buy: Book Depository or Amazon

helene druvert mary poppins up up and away

Mary Poppins Up, Up and Away

Illustrator: Helene Druvert
Publication: 2017

About the book: A charming picture storybook with ornate, laser-cut pages and delicate illustrations by Helene Druvert. It takes its readers on an enchanting journey over the rooftops of London, under the sea, and everywhere in between.

Where to buy: Book Depository or Amazon

There are actually a total of 8 books in the Mary Poppins series. The original books feature illustrations by Mary Shepard, the daughter of Ernest Shepard, most famous for his illustrations of Winnie the Pooh. In fact, Pamela Travers originally approached Ernest Shepard to illustrate Mary Poppins, but he was too busy to accept the work. You might think her father then recommended his daughter for the job, but in fact Travers happened to see a Christmas card Mary had designed on a friend’s mantle, and selected her directly – despite Mary Shepard being only 23 years old at the time, and quite inexperienced being only fresh out of art school. Travers asked Shepard to base her likeness of Mary Poppins on a wooden peg doll with painted black hair and a turned up nose.

PL Travers Mary Poppins 80th anniversary collection cover

Mary Poppins 80th Anniversary

Illustrator: Mary Shepard
Publication: 2014

About the book: The 80th anniversary edition collates the first four tales and incorporates Mary Shepard’s original illustrations. 

This edition has a gilded cover, a foreword by Gregory Maguire, as well as a closing essay by PL Travers called “On not writing for children”. This collected works volume is rather intimidating in size, with over 1000 pages making it very thick indeed!

Where to buy: Book Depository or Amazon

mary poppins treasure cove disney cover

Mary Poppins Golden Book

Illustrator: Disney artists
Publication: 2016

About the book: The Little Golden Book editions of Mary Poppins typically use artwork by uncredited Disney artists. They release them under new ISBNs every few years but the content is the same.

Highly abridged, low quality, but cute, very cheap, and perfect for a toddler.

Where to buy: Book Depository or Amazon

Janet Anne Grahame Johnstone Walt Disneys Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins Gift Token (vintage)

Illustrator: Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone
Publication: 1964

About the book: There are lots of vintage Mary Poppins books, but I’m including this one because it has illustrations by two of my favourite artists, twins Janet and Anne Johnstone. OOP.

Don’t forget to also visit the Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone illustrated bibliography…

Where to buy: Check availability at Abes

The Complete Mary Poppins Series

Apart from the huge omnibus edition above, if you’d rather read all the books in a smaller format, you can also still find some sweet hardback reproductions with the original black & white illustrations, as well as later colorized editions.

1. Mary Poppins

From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. 

➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

pl travers mary poppins hmh cover

2. Mary Poppins Comes Back

In Mary’s care, the Banks children meet the King of the Castle and the Dirty Rascal, visit the upside-down world of Mr. Turvy and his bride, Miss Topsy, and spend a breathless afternoon above the park, dangling from a clutch of balloons. 

➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

mary poppins hmh comes back cover

3. Mary Poppins Opens the Door

Mary takes the children on a visit to Mr. Twigley’s music box-filled attic, an encounter with the Marble Boy, and a ride on Miss Calico’s enchanted candy canes. 

➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

pl travers mary poppins hmh opens the door cover

    4. Mary Poppins in the Park

    Mary Poppins leads the Banks children to meet the Goosegirl and the Swineherd, argue with talking cats on a distant planet, make the acquaintance of the folks who live under dandelions, and celebrate a birthday by dancing with their own shadows. 

    ➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

    pl travers mary poppins hmh in the park cover

      5. Mary Poppins from A to Z

      An illustrated story book featuring 26 vignettes – one for each letter of the alphabet – that star Mary Poppins and other characters from the novels.

      ➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

      pl travers mary poppins hmhatoz cover

        6. Mary Poppins in the Kitchen

        With the help of familiar visitors like the Bird Woman, Admiral Boom, and Mr. and Mrs. Turvy, Mary Poppins teaches her irrepressible young charges the basics of cooking. (The book includes recipes.)

        ➡ Buy from Book Depository or Amazon

        pl travers mary poppins hmh kitchen cover

        7. Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane

        Mary Poppins takes the Banks children on magical Midsummer’s Eve adventure where mythical figures descend from the heavens. 

        ➡ Buy from Book Depository (in PB omnibus with House Next Door)

        mary poppins cherry tree lane

        8. Mary Poppins and the House Next Door

        The residents of Cherry Tree Lane are distressed to learn that their beloved Number Eighteen, an empty house for which each neighbour has created an imaginary, wished-for tenant, is about to be occupied by Mr. Banks’ childhood governess, Miss Andrew, otherwise known as “the Holy Terror.” 

        ➡ Buy from Book Depository (in PB omnibus with Cherry Tree Lane)

        mary poppins house next door

        Books vs Movie Trivia

        Disney’s 1964 Mary Poppins film won five Academy Awards, as well as being the only one of Walt Disney’s films to earn a Best Picture nomination in his lifetime. Disney’s daughters had fallen in love with the Mary Poppins books and made him promise to make a film based on them. However, it took him 20 years to convince Pamela Travers to let him adapt the first book of the series. Unfortunately, as many people know from the film ‘Saving Mr Banks,’ or the Mary Poppins She Wrote biography, the author hated Disney’s adaptation of her book. She thought the film was silly and sentimental, and had completely misinterpreted the personality of her main character – she didn’t even like the music. Their relationship became so acrimonious that Disney didn’t invite her to the movie premiere – she had to wrangle an invitation from an assistant, and she literally wept at the screening. She was so unhappy about the experience that when she granted permission for a stage adaptation in the 1990s, she agreed only with the stipulation that no Americans work on the project.

        marypoppins film snap

        Some of the main artistic changes between the books and the movies included removing Jane and Michael Banks’ twin siblings, reinventing Dick van Dyke’s iconic character Bert as a combination of the matchman and the sweep, and making Mary Poppins herself significantly kinder. Poppins is described in the books as a woman who “never wastes time being nice” and is in fact rather a stern tyrant. She is always looking in mirrors because she feels only tenuously connected to the physical world. She has a cousin who is a snake. And she disappears at the end of the book with a “wild cry”.

        The 2018 Mary Poppins Returns film is based on the characters of the original book and film, but the story is new and set 30 years after the film.

        Fun Stuff

        Links to a couple of fun pieces of movie and book memorabilia for the true fan!

        mary poppins umbrella

        Mary Poppins Umbrella

        A replica of the Mary’s umbrella from the film with its parrot head handle and the quote “practically perfect in every way”.

        Where to buy: Amazon UK

        mary poppins funko pop

        Mary Poppins ‘Original’ Funko Pop

        A replica of the Mary’s umbrella from the film with its parrot head handle and the quote “practically perfect in every way”.

        Where to buy: Amazon

        mary poppins cosplay

        Mary Poppins Cosplay Costume

        A full and detailed cosplay costume, including the jacket, shirt, gloves, shawl, skirt, belt, bow, scarf and hat.​ Made of quality materials (cotton, satin, chiffon and ‘uniform’ cloth).

        Where to buy: Amazon

        mary poppins movie case

        Mary Poppins Movies


        Mary Poppins (1964): Amazon

        Mary Poppins Returns (2018): Amazon

        Saving Mr Banks (2013): Amazon


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