Review 17: Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

9780008289362

About the author

Pamela Lyndon Travers was born in Australia in 1899 and her birth name was Helen Lyndon Goff. She was first published in her teenage years and also worked briefly as a Shakespearean actress. At the age of 25 she emigrated to England and changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers, she adopted the pen name P. L. Travers in 1933, when she started writing the Mary Poppins series. Walt Disney tried for years to get the rights for Mary Poppins to be made into a film, he even visited her several times at her house in London. Eventually Disney obtained the rights and the film Mary Poppins film was released in 1964. Travers did write many other novels, poetry and works of non-fiction but she is mainly remembered for Mary Poppins. She received an OBE in 1977 and died in 1996.

Blurb

When Mary Poppins arrives at their house on a gust of the East Wind, and slides up the banister, Jane and Michael Banks’s lives are turned magically and wonderfully upside down…

Review

Another book off my Christmas reading list finished and enjoyed. I’ve never read any of the Mary Poppins stories before but I have watched the film many times over, I used to happily sing along to all the songs and must admit I still do. I must admit I am looking forward to the new film coming out but only because one of my students stars in the film. I am not usually a fan of remakes if truth be told. When Waterstones emailed advertising this book I ordered it straight away and got a signed copy, always a thrill.

The first thing I noticed was that the story is abridged which was a little disappointing but the gorgeous illustrations more than made up for that. The story is based around the Banks family who are in need of another nanny and that is where Mary Poppins comes in.

The Banks family consists of Mr Banks the father and head of the house who is rather tight with money and goes out to work each day at the bank. Mrs Banks is the mother and is always out being very busy doing things and making sure the house is running correctly. The children are Michael and Jane the two oldest and the main characters of the story and the young twins John and Barbara who have a chapter of their own but are not otherwise really mentioned. Then there is Mrs Ellen who is the cook, Ellen the maid and Robertson Ay who is the butler but who is also a little useless.

Michael and Jane are rather naughty children and have driven away another Nanny and so Mary Poppins turns up to be the new Nanny. Mary Poppins instantly comes across as different to the children, to begin with she seems to arrive with the wind and then she sits at the bottom of the banister and slides up the staircase. The children know that Mary is different and soon begin to realise her ways and methods. The other thing I love about the children is their view of the world, a good example of this is the fact that they think their dad physically makes money at the bank. When I read this I had the image of Mr Banks sat there cutting out and minting coins and this is what I think the children also imagine their father does each day at work. I found the image adorable and it put a big smile on my face. Travers is a talented writer in this respect and fully understands the way a child’s mind works.

Mary Poppins was a bit of a surprise to me, firstly I could not believe how vain she is, she is constantly looking at her own reflection and deliberately wears clothes and hats that she knows are different and look good on her. The two children get frustrated with her when they go out as she constantly stops at windows to look at herself. In this respect I do not think she sets a good example to the children and I would not like to be around a person who did this either so I understand the children’s frustration. Mary Poppins is also very bossy which I was not happy about but she did get results from the children so I suppose it worked. I also found it odd how she called all birds sparrows, even pigeons, thankfully the children knew better.

I did not find Michael and Jane to be very naughty and thought that the previous nanny must have had a very low threshold of behaviour for the children to drive her to leave. I found the children inquisitive and just like normal happy high spirited children but maybe my opinion is a modern opinion and the time the story was written children were still meant to be seen and not heard.

My favourite chapter was in fact the chapter based around John and Barbara and how when they reach the age of one everything changes. I found this chapter really sweet and it made me smile, it also made me a little sad but in a good way. The illustrations for this chapter also reminded me greatly of the TV series that Child created called Charlie and Lola. The other highlight of this chapter was the cheeky starling.

I did enjoy this book and I want to read the full version and maybe some of the sequels but it did disappoint in some areas, the main being Mary Poppins, she just came across as grumpy. The best characters were the children I loved their naivety and their undying love of Mary Poppins even though they can see her flaws they still love her and have also learnt how to get what they want from her. The other reason I enjoyed this book so much was the illustrations, Child is very talented and she really made the story come alive. I only gave this book 3 out 5 stars because it felt like a lot had been cut from the story and it seemed to detract from the storyline and at times felt rushed and disjointed. Also I struggled to accept Mary Poppins at times.

A beautiful book well worth the read and I will happily recommend it to children and adults. I will leave you with my favourite illustration from the book.

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Lady Book Dragon

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Review 16: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

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About the author

Chris Van Allsburg was born June 1949 and is an American author and illustrator of children’s books. Van Allsburg attended the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan and majored in sculpture. Van Allsburg started sketching at home and his wife encouraged him to illustrate children’s books, he then went on to write and illustrate his first children’s book The Garden of Abdul Gasazi in 1979. He has won two Caldecott Medals for U.S picture book illustration, both books he also wrote. To date Van Allsburg has written and illustrated about twenty books and has also illustrated children’s books for HarperCollins.

Blurb

Late on Christmas Eve, a boy boards a mysterious train: The Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives there, Santa offers him any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for a bell from a reindeer’s harness, but this turns out to be a very special gift…

Review

So this book was not on my Christmas reading list but I bought some Christmas presents from Waterstones and this might have slipped in on the order. I know have a problem with buying books but I regret nothing!

This evening after a long day teaching I managed to put a few more Christmas decorations up and I rewarded myself with a mug of tea and this book to read. I was really looking forward to this book as I love the film. I have been singing the soundtrack from the film all evening.

The book is about a little boy who is excitedly waiting on Christmas Eve to see Father Christmas but instead a train pulls up outside his house. This little boy is desperately hoping to hear the sleigh bells even though his friend has told him he will never hear them as Father Christmas does not exist. The little boy gets on the Polar Express to go to the North Pole to see who will be chosen to receive the first Christmas present from Father Christmas.

I enjoyed the story of the book and the significance of the little boy’s chosen gift of the sleigh bell, it made me smile but at the same time it also made me sad. The sadness came because the book shows the truth we all know so well, some people forget the magic of Christmas and lose the wonder. This I hope I never lose, no matter how busy I get at Christmas or how stressed I hope I still see the wonder, magic and beauty of the Christmas season.

The story is a lovely little children’s story and the illustrations are beautiful but I must admit I found the movie more impressive, maybe because I have known the movie longer and always loved it. I also just felt the story was rushed and I wanted the story to be a bit longer and padded out, I just could not seem to gel with the author’s writing style. I give the story 3 out of 5 stars because it made me feel a little blue instead of the warm fuzzy feeling I was after.

Lady Book Dragon

 

Christmas Reading continued

Greetings readers!

How is everyone’s run up to Christmas going so far?

Well I did promise that I would probably add to the Christmas reading list and I have. I have added three new books.

1. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

This book was half price at Waterstones and as usual I could not resist.

2. Winnie the Pooh Gloom and Doom for Pessimists by A.A Milne

3. The Snowman: a new story inspired by the original tale by Raymond Briggs by Michael Morpurgo

These last two I bought today whilst out shopping in the supermarket. To be honest we went in to look at the Christmas decorations and I spotted The Snowman and picked it up. The Winnie the Pooh book was quite simply because it had Eeyore on the front and he is and will always be, my favourite Winnie the Pooh character. One day I will show you all just how many Eeyore’s I own.

Anyway that is my updated list! Please let me know your thoughts if you have read any of them.

Oh and we decorated our new Christmas tree today as well.

Happy reading.

Lady Book Dragon.

One Month Blogging!

So today marks exactly one month from when I started this blog.

I must admit I think I am hooked. I have got another blog, which I must admit is rather abandoned which is about lots of things really, but to be honest I lost heart with it after a while. This blog, however I have no intention of abounding as I have found what I enjoy and that is reading and talking about books.

I hope my readers so far are enjoying my posts and all the likes and follows are extremely appreciated. I’ve also discovered some new blogs to follow as well through my blogging journey.

A quick Christmas reading list update: Two new books have arrived for my Christmas reading list. I am getting very excited for the 1st December. I am so tempted to start now but I must resist.

The new books are:-

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo

Anyway, a big thank you to all my readers and thank you for your support so far on my blogging journey.

Happy reading and blogging everyone.

Lady Book Dragon.

Another Book Haul

Hello my fellow readers.

A massive thank you to all who have read my blog so far and my new followers. It is all greatly appreciated.

I thought I would share my latest book haul with you. I went to buy my nephew his birthday presents this week, I always buy my nephews and niece books for presents and thankfully they are all big readers, so this is a bonus. However, in so entering a book shop, I inevitably bought myself some books and a bag to carry them in.

Here is my wonderful book haul!

The books include:-

Coraline and other stories by Neil Gaiman

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura.

If Cats Disappeared from the World my husband chose for me, fingers crossed it is a good read.

My black cat Pan was very impressed with the two books with cats on.

The books I got for my nephew were:-

Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett

Eric by Terry Pratchett.

Anyway happy reading my fellow dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

Review 3. The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee

About the Author

Alan Lee was born in 1947 in Middlesex, England, he is an acclaimed book illustrator and conceptual designer and set decorator for films. His most famous works are the centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings and diamond edition of The Hobbit. He studied graphic design and the depiction of Celtic and Norse myths. He has illustrated many books and won many awards for his work. He was also the Conceptual Designer and Set decorator on Percy Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

Blurb

In The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook Alan Lee reveals in pictures and in words how he created the beautiful watercolour paintings for the special centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings. These images would prove so powerful and evocative that they would eventually define the look of Percy Jackson’s movie trilogy and would earn him a coveted Academy Award.

The book is filled with over 150 of his sketches and early conceptual pieces to show how the project progressed from idea to finished art. It also contains a selection of colour paintings reproduced in full page glory, together with numerous examples of previously unseen conceptual art produced for the films and many new works drawn specially for this book.

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook provides a fascinating insight into the imagination of the man who painted Tolkien’s vision, firstly onto the page and then in three dimensions on the cinema screen. It will also be of interest to many of the 100,000 people who have bought the illustrated The Lord of the Rings as well as for budding artists interested in unlocking the secrets of book illustration.

Review

I was very lucky to receive this book for my birthday this year, as it has been on my wish list for some time. I must admit I had forgotten this book was on my wish list, so it was a great surprise to receive it. I remember my mom buying me the centenary illustrated edition of The Lord of Rings and it is one of my favourite books, so actually to be able to read how Alan Lee came up with his amazing art work has been rather exciting.

Firstly, I must admit I did not read the book, I just sat there looking at each page and the beautiful art work appearing on each page, remembering where the sketches fit in with the narrative. I was pleased I took the time to enjoy the art work first, as I know I am quite often guilty of getting too absorbed in the words and missing out on the beauty of the art. 

Once I had seen all the artwork I then went back to the beginning and started to read. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the book, sometimes with these types of books I easily lose focus and find it hard to finish the book. However, this book I could not put down. I loved how Lee described the history he has with the story and how parts of his childhood influenced his imagination for some of the scenes. Lee describes how when he read The Lord of the Rings he was constantly imagining what the scene looked like and thinking what was Tolkien wanting the scenes to look like and what images were influencing his descriptions in the book and Lee wanting to be as true to that as he could. 

Seeing the little sketches and ideas that Lee worked through in the book gives you a glimpse into what it must be like inside Lee’s head. I can not imagine that he ever stops creating either in his head or doodling on paper, that is what comes across most in the book. He is always thinking and working. 

The picture below shows the sketch of one of my favourite watercolour images in the centenary edition, Eowyn with Aragorn. I love this image so much and to see the sketch is wonderful, it is fascinating to see a rough version of one of my all time favourite images. 

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The following picture is also one of my favourites – Tom Bombadil’s house. I loved the chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring with Tom and I was really upset it was not in the film, so I was really pleased to see it included in the sketchbook and to read about how Lee created it.

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The details in the book about how the film sets were created are fascinating and just magical. It really brought it home to me just how many people were involved in the making of one of my all time favourite film series. I also loved how Lee is happily telling the reader about his frustrations, the art work he wasn’t so happy with and particularly when he had to pull all nighters. 

The thing I loved the most about this book was that Lee did not focus it all on the film and included so much about the centenary edition, the book I love so much. Lee is such a talented artist and it was wonderful to be briefly part of his world.

I truly loved this book and even though I have finished it, I still pick it up and dip in to look again at the stunning artwork. 

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase from

Waterstones

Amazon

Book Depository

Lady Book Dragon

Birthday Book Haul

Last week was my birthday and I was very happy to have a good book haul in presents. So I thought I would share my book pile. I had loads of Tolkien always a favourite of mine and the complete works of Jane Austen in the Folio Society editions. I also had the limited edition of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty done by the Folio Society, it is so beautiful I have not opened it yet, as I am so scared of marking it. I love the Folio Society editions but can rarely afford them so it is wonderful when I get them as presents and I have never had a limited edition before so that is a real treasure.

Anyway here are a few snaps of my new book pile.

 

 

Lady Book Dragon