Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers is the sequel to Mary Poppins. The story picks up just a few months from when the original book left off. The Banks’ house is in complete disarray. Mary Poppins had deserted the family without notice. They had hired other nurses to take Poppins’ place, but none of them lasted long. One nurse, for instance, had been spat at by young Michael Banks and quit immediately. Michael fought with his sister Jane, little twins John and Barbara quarreled, the kitchen flue caught fire, the cherry trees were devastated by frost, and so on. Mrs. Banks does not know what to do. In despair, she sends the four children to the park so she can have some peace at home. Jane and Michael decide to fly a kite to entertain John and Barbara. As they pull the kite back in, to their astonishment, they see Mary Poppins herself holding the string and gliding down with the kite.
Within moments, Mary Poppins is already ordering the children around. Much like the original book, Poppins assumes a stern and haughty attitude. However, the children enjoy many new adventures in this sequel. I enjoyed reading about their magical ability to fly above the park holding just one balloon each. I also liked reading about the day they met an interesting man named Mr. Turvy. The day happened to be the second Monday of the month. Every second Monday, mysterious things happen to Mr. Turvy. He flips upside-down, he finds himself outside when he wants to be inside, and he even feels sad though he normally feels happy. This quirky episode is strange but I found it to be quite amusing.
Mary Poppins is as scornful as ever in this book. She displays a short temper and even intimidates the children. On one occasion, for example, we read: “Mary Poppins, in her fury, seemed to have grown to twice her usual size. She hovered over him in her nightgown, huge and angry, waiting for him to reply.” Poppins also proves to be quite vain. For example, as she passed by a glass window, “Mary Poppins gave a little conceited nod to her reflection and hurried on.” She also seems to be dishonest with the children. After almost every adventure, Poppins denies that she had anything to do with it or that it even happened at all.
I began to wonder if all the tumult in the Banks’ household was caused by Mary Poppins herself, so that the family would appreciate her more when their situation magically improved. Whether or not my conspiracy theory is correct, everyone still seems to love Mary Poppins by the end of the story. Despite her periodic rude comments to the children, they seem to enjoy her company as much as ever. The main reason for this may be that many exciting and delightful adventures seem to follow Mary Poppins wherever she goes. These adventures make the book charming to read, if you can look past Mary Poppins’ less-than-perfect attitude and behavior toward the children.