Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.
IBBY Greece is the sponsor for International Children’s Book Day 2023.
Andersen’s fairy tales, consisting of 156 stories across nine volumes, have been translated into more than 125 languages. They have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. His most famous fairy tales include «The Emperor’s New Clothes», «The Little Mermaid», «The Nightingale», «The Steadfast Tin Soldier», «The Red Shoes», «The Princess and the Pea», «The Snow Queen», «The Ugly Duckling», «The Little Match Girl», and «Thumbelina». His stories have inspired ballets, plays, and animated and live-action films.
Mary Poppins is a series of eight children’s books written by Australian-British writer P. L. Travers and published over the period 1934 to 1988. Mary Shepard was the illustrator throughout the series.
The books centre on the magical English nanny Mary Poppins, who is blown by the East wind to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, and into the Banks” household to care for their children. Encounters with pavement-painters and shopkeepers, and various adventures ensue, until Mary Poppins abruptly leaves, i.e., «pops out». Only the first three of the eight books feature Mary Poppins arriving and leaving. The later five books recount previously unrecorded adventures from her original three visits. As Travers explains in her introduction to Mary Poppins in the Park, «She cannot forever arrive and depart.»
The books were adapted by Walt Disney into a musical film titled Mary Poppins (1964), starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The film Saving Mr. Banks (2013) depicted the making of the 1964 film. Disney’s sequel to the 1964 film, Mary Poppins Returns, was released in 2018, and stars Emily Blunt as Poppins.
In 2004, Disney Theatrical in collaboration with Sir Cameron Mackintosh (who had previously acquired the stage rights from Travers) produced a stage musical also called Mary Poppins in London’s West End theatre. The stage musical was transferred to Broadway, in New York, in 2006, where it ran until its closing on 3 March 2013.