Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

mary poppins.jpgTitle: Mary Poppins
Author: P.L. Travers, illustrated by Lauren Childs
Genre: Classics, Children’s Literature
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 16th November 2018 (originally published 1934)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Price: $39.99
Synopsis: An exquisite flagship gift edition of an iconic classic, illustrated by the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child.
When Mary Poppins arrives at their house on a gust of the East Wind and slides up the bannister, Jane and Michael Banks’s lives are turned magically upside down.

Who better to reimagine this endearing children’s classic than today’s most instantly recognisable and best-loved artist-illustrator? Lauren Child brings the magic of Mary Poppins into the hearts and imagination of readers and fans new and old.

First published in 1964, Mary Poppins has been delighting readers ever since, both in books and on film. This stunning deluxe edition is published ahead of the release of the hotly anticipated Disney film Mary Poppins Returns.

~*~

In 1934, Australian author, P.L. Travers, a pen name for Helen Goff, wrote and published Mary Poppins, the first in a series of books about a magical nanny who looked after the Banks children, Jane, Michael, and their twin brother and sister, Barbara and John (Barbara and John do not appear in the 1964 Disney movie). In this edition, Lauren Childs has illustrated the stories told by P.L. Travers, and the world she created in London, and Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, which is an address that is familiar to many through the books, and the movie, and that has captured the imaginations of children and adults for generations.

When Katie Nanna up and leaves the Banks family at the beginning of the book, Mary Poppins appears out of nowhere to take charge, flying in on the East Wind on her parrot-handled umbrella and with her magical carpet bag. Throughout, she goes on adventures with Bert, the Match Man, and takes her charges, Jane and Michael on outings, and shares the secrets of talking to animals with the twins. She has promised to stay until the wind changes to the west – at which point, her work will be done and she will have to depart the Banks family.

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe latest edition has come out in anticipation of the upcoming movie, Mary Poppins Returns, which sees Mary Poppins, this time played by Emily Blunt, return to Cherry Tree Lane, to a new generation of Banks children. The story is simple, but at the same time, filled with a sense of reality, where a family must learn to be a family again, and this is done through the magic of Mary Poppins – though in the book, she is much less saccharine than in the Disney version. Here, we have a Mary Poppins who does not shy away from the realities that the Banks children do and must face in the world that is about to become quite dangerous.

The world that P.L. Travers creates is set in London, referred to as the City, and landmarked by St Paul’s Cathedral, where we meet The Bird Lady – who has a bigger role in the novel than the film, and even though this is an abridged version, it still gets the main ideas and story across, and people can enjoy this and the original together now, as each publication, both movies and the stage show bring a new level and new layers of story to Mary Poppins and what she does for the family.

The story is set in the early twentieth century, though Lauren imagined it in the 1930s – perhaps it could be either, and at the start, it reads like it could possibly be set in early twentieth century Australia until those classic London landmarks are mentioned to cement the setting. It is a delightful edition, and the illustrations are whimsical and fun, but still capturing the essence of the original story that P.L. Travers intended for her characters. It is an Australian classic that has endured for over eighty years, and will hopefully, continue to charm readers for years to come, both child and adult.

I enjoyed reading this book, and hope that others enjoy it too.

Booktopia

The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

little fairy sister.jpgTitle: The Little Fairy Sister

Author: Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbery Outhwaite

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: NLA Publishing First Edition

Published: 1st May 2013

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 112

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: ‘The Little Fairy Sister’ is a real fairy story of Bridget’s adventures among the wee people. She meets the most delightful little creatures: the Dragon-fly, the Kookaburra, the Lizard, the Teddy Bears, the Pelican, as well as the Mannikins, the Merman, and of course the Fairies.

This facsimile of The Little Fairy Sister, popular with children of the 1920s, has been reproduced by the National Library of Australia from an early edition of the book. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s enchanting illustrations will appeal to children as much today as they did yesterday.

~*~

Many children in Australia have been, and still are, brought up on a European tradition of fairy tales that have their roots in oral, salon and literary traditions: Oscar Wilde, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault and other French salon writers, including Charlotte Rose de la Force, and Hans Christian Andersen. Stemming from there, collections from Andrew Lang – his rainbow fairy books, and English authors such as John Jacobs would have largely shaped the fairy tale world children come to inhabit. In the early twentieth century in Australia, a young woman  named Ida Rentoul turned her hand to creating images of fairies, drawing fairies and whimsical creatures into a uniquely Australian setting, combining them with Australian flora and fauna.

Bridget is an only child who is doted on by nurse and her parents – and when she falls asleep after her father tells her a story of the little sister she was told went to live with the fairies, she falls into a world of magic, of fairies and talking animals, much like Alice did when she tumbled down the rabbit hole of Lewis Carroll’s classic Wonderland. In this new world, Bridget shrinks down to the size of a fairy as she explores the world of talking animals, a fairy queen, wonder, magic and a bushland paradise that is both quintessentially European in the tradition of a fairy land, and yet also, quintessentially Australian as native fauna and flora populate the world Bridget finds herself in. Accompanied by dragonflies, pelicans, a kookaburra and a myriad of other creatures that populate the world of fairy tales, and bridge the gap of the real and fairy tale worlds of Australia and the European tradition – where the familiar tales are transported into an equally familiar landscape for Australian children.

The introduction states that Ida would allow her family – mother, sisters and later, her husband, Grenbery, to put text and stories to her images. The text that accompanies Ida’s images of Bridget and The Little Fairy Sister was written in 1923, by her husband, Grenbery, and has been reproduced in the facsimile edition in this new print. Ida is known as the queen of the fairy book in Australia, and though her work is uniquely Australian, hr work is filled with echoes of Lewis Carroll, Arthur Rackham, Kate Greenaway and Aubrey Beardsley – where European tradition meets Australian wilderness.

It is an enjoyable and easy read, where the combination of European fairy tales and Australian nature, flora and fauna creates a new world, though sadly a little unknown these days, and so this reprint of the original facsimile of the 1920s edition brings it back to life for a new audience, and deserves a place in our literary canon, and the fairy tale canon of literature in Australia and around the world, to show how tradition can marry with a new world that is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time to people.

This book marks of my final book bingo square for the year, a forgotten classic, which will go up in December.

Booktopia

The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas

the-nutcracker.jpegTitle: The Nutcracker (Barnes & Noble Leather-bound Pocket Editions)

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Barnes and Noble Inc/Fall River Press

Published: 1st September 2018

Format: Leather bound

Pages: 152

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: Discover the real story behind the Disney holiday film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and the famous Nutcracker Christmas ballet, as told by Alexandre Dumas

‘How could you imagine, silly child, that this toy, which is made of cloth and wood, could possibly be alive?’

The nutcracker doll that mysterious Godfather Drosselmeyer gives to little Marie for Christmas is no ordinary toy. On Christmas Eve, as the clocks strike midnight, Marie watches as the Nutcracker and her entire cabinet of playthings come to life and boldly do battle against the evil Mouse King and his armies.
But this is only the start of the tale.

Read on for enchantment and transformation; enter a world by turns fantastical and sinister, a kingdom of dolls and spun-sugar palaces, and learn the true history of the brave little Nutcracker.

~*~

The Nutcracker is one of those stories that is inexplicably linked to Christmas, whether it is the E.T.A Hoffman version, Tchaikovsky’s ballet, one of the many movie adaptations, including the upcoming Disney film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and finally, the version being reviewed here, by Alexandre Dumas, who also wrote The Three Musketeers. Marie, or Mary as she is referred to in this version, is given a nutcracker doll for Christmas by Godfather Drosselmeyer, but unlike her doll, Clara, is magical, and when the clocks strike midnight on Christmas Eve, Marie watches the Nutcracker and her dolls come to life, battle the evil Mouse King, and take Marie/Mary on a journey through a world of magical dolls, and sugar-spun palaces, and many more realms that show the fantastical and sinister world that the Nutcracker is truly a part of.

The Nutcracker is one of those stories – whether in the written form, a movie or as the ballet – that is quintessentially linked with Christmas, much like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and the associations with a world of magic and toys often sung about in a myriad of Christmas songs, and is one of those stories that sets the mood for Christmas perfectly and nicely. Originally published in 1847 as The History of a Nutcracker, this new edition introduces people to the Nutcracker anew as they go in a journey with Mary/Marie (depending on which translation and author you read) through the world that the Nutcracker, the toys and the Mouse King inhabit – a magical world of wonder and joy, where Mary/Marie is destined to help the Nutcracker bring order back to the world and kingdoms she enters in her dreams.

For a long time, I only knew of the Nutcracker as a ballet by Tchaikovsky, and have the score, or at least, the main piece of music, somewhere. I also knew about it from a movie I once saw, so when I found it as a novel, I knew I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. It really sets the mood for Christmas and is entertaining – though Mary is admonished for staying up after midnight on Christmas Eve, it is the magic of the world Mary/Marie enters, and that the reader enters too. Reading this book has really put me in the mood for Christmas and the new Nutcracker movie coming out later this month, just in time for Christmas.

I’m getting ready to do some Christmas reading of other books and the usual movies, but read this one early so I could see the movie after reading it. I look forward to seeing the movie and reading this book again soon.

Booktopia

Book Bingo Ten – A forgotten classic

katherine mansfield.jpg

The second last square I have to fill for this book bingo round is a forgotten classic. For this square, which completes Row One Down and Row Four Across, I read Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield – the Oxford University Press edition in their World Classics series.

I’m doing something a little different this time, including a full review rather than a summary of one for this book.

About the book:

‘I was jealous of her writing. The only writing I have ever been jealous of.’ Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was not the only writer to admire Mansfield’s work: Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, and Elizabeth Bowen all praised her stories, and her early death at the age of thirty-four cut short one of the finest short-story writers in the English language.

This selection covers the full range of Mansfield’s fiction, from her early satirical stories to the subtly nuanced comedy of ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’ and the macabre and ominous ‘A Married Man’s Story’. The stories that pay what Mansfield calls ‘a debt of love’ to New Zealand are as sharply etched as the European stories, and she recreates her childhood world with mordant insight. Disruption is a constant theme, whether the tone is comic, tragic, nostalgic, or domestic, echoing Mansfield’s disrupted life and the fractured expressions of Modernism.

This new edition increases the selection from 27 to 33 stories and prints them in the order in which they first appeared, in the definitive texts established by Anthony Alpers.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

The edition I read was published in 2008 and can be bought for around $19.95.

~*~

The 33 stories are set in the years before, during and just after World War One, and they give glimpses into a life and society that Katherine grew up in, capturing moments in time – and that therefore, need to be understood in the context of the time and place Katherine was writing in – an early twentieth century England, after a childhood spent in New Zealand, experiences that would have contributed to her world view and the way she wrote.

Each story is its own entity, though there are three or four that involve the same family, and are connected but can also be read as lone stories as well as consecutively and still understood within their individual and collective contexts.

Like many writers, Katherine Mansfield was influenced by the time and places she lived in, and the Great War – a war that inspired many authors, including Katherine’s friend and admirer, Virginia Woolf. I first read several of these short stories during an English course, and read the rest for the book bingo challenge this post is part of.

Katherine Mansfield has a way with words where she hints at what has happened, and where it isn’t always clear, but her stories that end on an ambiguous note such as The Garden Party, are perhaps some of her most interesting stories. With each story very different, the characters show the length and breadth of Katherine’s experiences and encounters in her life. I did wonder which one in my collection, if any had been inspired by what her family had lost during World War One, or if that is relegated to another collection if she wrote one like that at all/

Of all the classics, I have found that not as many people know about Katherine Mansfield compared to other authors such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and May Gibbs – which is why I have slotted her into this square for this bingo round. Prior to a university course, I had never heard of her, and I feel she is one of those authors who deserves more recognition.

book bingo 2018.png

 

 

Row #1 – – BINGO

A book set more than 100 years ago: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham – AWW2018

A book with a yellow cover: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

A book written by an Australian woman:The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett – AWW2018

A forgotten classic: Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield

A book that became a movie: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Row #4 – BINGO

 

A forgotten classic: Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield

A book with a one-word title: Munmun by Jesse Andrews, Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: Monty the Sad Puppy by Holly Webb

A funny book: Grandpa, Me and Poetry by Sally Morgan

A book with a number in the title: Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-Time Husband by Barbara Toner – AWW2018