recess radio program

03/23/05
Mary Poppins
    by John Cech

Nannies seem to be everywhere these days -- they're on TV and writing books, and you can spot them looking after the children of two-career families, and the kids of the stars. But there's something quintessential about the Nanny who's responsible for one of the classic neologism of childhood:

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That's, of course, the Nanny of Nannies, P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins, as filtered through the Disney studios and Julie Andrews. For awhile you had to go hunting on ebay for an old copy of the Mary Poppins video, but now she's back again, fine and digitally remastered, and with a new cd of the famous music to go with it. Now the Mary Poppins of the screen and sound studio isn't the same person we find in Ms. Travers'novels -- there are seven of these, which have appeared over the past 54 years. They're all worth reading to your children before (always before) they see the movie. The Mary Poppins books are available in paperback and they're a bracing, eye-opening mix of fantsy, good sense and wry wit. The books subtle, literate experiences: there aren't song and dance numbers with chorus lines of chimney sweeps, penguins, or singing animals as there are in the movie, but, hey, there are novels and there's Hollywood. And I must admit, there is something irresistable about a menagerie like this:

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So read the novels, then see the movie, then listen to the music on its own, and you'll find everything starts working together in one giddy, wonderful tonic, tart and enigmatic, but with large portions of great, sweet fun -- more than enough, for sure, to make every kind of medicine go down smoothly.

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Copyright 2005 John Cech

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Wednesday, 23-Feb-2005 13:57:47 EST


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."