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Okay, now I know this will probably seem like a children's book - and in some respects it is - but Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P. L. Travers most definitely has some hidden wisdom and thoughtful words well beyond child-like comprehension. Here's the cover art:




The story chronicles one of Mary Poppins many stays at Cherry Tree Lane, caring for Jane and Michael Banks. The story is full of the kind of adventures only Mary Poppins could provide - playing in the park with Neleus the marble statue boy, flying peppermint candy cane horses, concerts under the ocean with a plethora of fish, and my most favorite after all these years: a quite insightful and haughty china cat who visits a king.

I love that particular story so much I think in part because the cat in the story is perfect - as haughty and self-centered as real cats are (no offense meant, I love cats and have two myself, but cats ARE very self important by nature). In this story-within-a-story, the King of a far away kingdom wants to know everything - including things like "Why are cheeks pink and cabbages green?" and "What if teeth are really pearls?" His obsession with knowledge causes him to grow old before his time and strains his relationships with everyone from his wife, to his subjects, to the Prime Minister, to the little boy who fills the king's ink wells. And then, on that fateful day, the china cat (from the mantlepiece in Jane and Michael's bedroom) comes and the king has a most extraordinary revelation...

Favorite quote: " 'If a dozen men, working eight hours a day, had to dig a hole ten-and-a-half miles deep - how long long would it be, including Sundays, before they put down their spades?'

The King's eyes shone with a cunning sparkle. He gazed at the Cat with a look of triumph. But the cat had its answer ready.

'Two seconds,' it said quickly, with a little flick of its tail.

'Two seconds! Are you mad? The answer's in years!' The King rubbed his hands together with glee at the thought of the Cat's mistake.

'I repeat,' said the Cat. 'It would take them two seconds. To dig such a hole would be utterly foolish. Ten miles deep? they would say. Why what on earth for?'

'That isn't the point,' the King said angrily.

'But every question must have a point. A point is exactly what questions are for.' "

Final rating: The "classic" looking illustrations only add to Mary Poppins' charm, the content is suitable for both children and adults alike, and the stories are whimsical but teach great lessons. P. L. Travers is a genius! Five out of five!