I'm trying to remember the title of a children's book I remember very little about the book itself except that it was about a babysitter who took the children she babysat to some kind of fantasy world. Unfortunately I can't remember anything about the world - for some reason the one thing I do remember is that the babysitter looked quite strict and boring so parents wondered why she was so popular with the children.


I remember the book from childhood so it must be at least 20-25 years old (although it could be much older). I really can't remember much about it - I think the babysitter had brown hair and was some kind of leader or important figure in the fantasy world.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! You should check out the suggestions for asking good story-id questions to see if there are any other details you can recall to edit into your question. – DavidW Aug 29 '19 at 21:05
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    It's Mary Poppins! – DannyMcG Aug 29 '19 at 21:14
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    That's ringing a lot of bells for me. Was it from the point of view of a somewhat lonely boy, who usually didn't get babysat? This particular day his mum (a bit of a worrywart) is leaving him with his more rambunctious neighbours, who are worried he will spoil the magic; the babysitter is actually the princess of a magic world, and the children help her fight her enemies... – Showsni Aug 30 '19 at 0:35
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    Sounds a bit like Nanny McPhee - was that a book or just a film? – AJM-Reinstate-Monica Aug 30 '19 at 11:01
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    @AJM Wikipedia says Nanny McPhee was based on the Nurse Matilda books. – Jacob C. says Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '19 at 19:59

This is probably P. L. Travers's book series about the magical nanny Mary Poppins, of which the first two books are Mary Poppins (1934) and Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935).

Mary Poppins is the babysitter to the Banks family. She takes care of Jane and Michael (who are probably just below school age), John and Barbara (who turn one year old at the end of the first book), and Annabel (born during the second book). The adventures often take place in streets of the town that appear only when the children visit them with the help of Mary Poppins and aren't there later. The children visit relatives and acquaintances of Mary Poppins who all seem to possess some sort of magical powers or curses. Mary Poppins herself indeed seems to be important in the fantasy world. In the first book, the children visit the zoo at night, when humans are in the cages, the zoo animals are outside, and they are celebrating Mary Poppins's birthday. In the second book, they instead visit a circus in the sky at night in which constellations behave like living people and perform, the Sun is the director, and the Sun dances with Mary Poppins. The parents don't know or don't believe about the fantastical adventures, because Mary Poppins always acts in front of them like nothing happened. Mary Poppins is indeed very strict, but the start of the second book makes it clear that the children prefer her over any other babysitter that they had. The parents may be skeptical at the first book, and certainly don't like how Mary Poppins leaves without advance notice at the end of both books, but they do recognize that Mary is good with the children. The brown hair doesn't match: Mary Poppins has black hair according to the first chapter of Comes Back.

  • @user14111 oops, fixed it. – Stormblessed Sep 2 '19 at 1:02
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    You might want to add that the well-known Disney film Mary Poppins differs from the books in many points. – SQB Sep 2 '19 at 7:57
  • @SQB I don't know anything about the film, but OP says he's read a book. Sadly I also don't have the first book at hand, so it would be more important to update this answer with details from that one. – b_jonas Sep 2 '19 at 8:12
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    @b_jonas what I mean is that OP may be familiar with the Disney film, and because of that, may disregard the books, not knowing that they differ from that film. – SQB Sep 2 '19 at 8:53
  • Thanks for the great answer. I don't think Mary Poppins is what I'm looking for but it's definitely interesting learning more about the book. I'm pretty sure the book I'm think about is the one described by @Showsni in the comment on the question. – SBFrancies Sep 2 '19 at 19:47

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