November 30, 2018

Mary Poppins

Based on the novel by P. L. Travers
Adapted by Amy Novesky
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
October 2018

With the upcoming release of the movie Mary Poppins Returns, there will be much renewed interest in P. L. Travers's character who was introduced in her 1934 novel, Mary Poppins. Fortunately, a new picture book adaptation with a Canadian illustrator, Geneviève Godbout, will be a perfect introduction for young children to this magical nanny and her story.
From Mary Poppins illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
American Amy Novesky's adaptation of the original story is lovely yet condensed, as is necessary when taking a detailed work such as a novel and filtering it down to the text of a picture book. Still Amy Novesky ensures that the important details of the house at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, the East Wind bringing a hat-clad woman with parrot-headed umbrella and magically voluminous carpetbag, and the household of the Banks children–Jane, Michael and the twins–and their parents remain, as do key events and dialogue. There's Mary Poppins sliding up the banister; the floating Uncle Albert; Mrs. Corry and daughters Annie and Fannie adorning the night sky with stars; and a nighttime visit to the zoo, as well as Mary's familiar declarations of "Spit-spot to bed" and "I'll stay till the wind changes."
From Mary Poppins illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
But it's Geneviève Godbout's artwork that breathes life into Mary Poppins. The lovely young woman exudes grace and control, though always tempered with affection, charm and fairness. Geneviève Godbout makes Mary both attracting and disciplined, the perfect combination for caregiver, whether parent or nanny. From her easy topknot to her billowing black skirt and plain hose and shoes, she is the picture of efficiency. But her face, with rosy cheeks and bright eyes and delicate nose, Mary Poppins is beautiful and proper. Geneviève Godbout even gets her posture correct: strong but not overpowering, competent, and determined. It's such a shame that we all had to save "Au revoir!"

"Strike me pink," as Mary Poppins might say when pleased, because this new illustrated adaptation of her story flies above the rest and will charm all children, adults and animals and adorn the world with starry wonder.
From Mary Poppins illustrated by Geneviève Godbout

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