On the evening of Guy Fawkes Day, Mary Poppins arrives in the wake of the last fireworks display by the Banks family. The Banks children Michael, Jane, the twins, and Annabel plead with her to stay. She reluctantly agrees to do so "till the door opens".
Mrs. Banks has Mary and the children find a piano tuner, who happens to be Mary's cousin, Mr. Twigley. When Mary and the children visit, Mr. Twigley tries to unburden himself from seven wishes given to him when he was born. Besides pianos, Mr. Twigley also specializes in songbirds such as nightingales, one of which he releases when he's finished. He also provides music boxes for Mary and the Banks children to dance to. When they return home later, the drawing room piano is playing perfectly, and when the Banks children ask Mary what happened, she sharply rebukes them.
Other adventures in the book include Mary telling the story of a king who was outsmarted by a cat, the park statue of Neleus that comes to life for a time during one of their outings, their visit to confectioner Miss Calico and her flying peppermint sticks, an undersea (High-Tide) party where Mary Poppins is the guest of honor, and a party between fairy tale rivals in the Crack between the Old Year and the New. When the children ask why Mary Poppins, a real person, is there, they are told that she is a fairy tale come true.
Finally, the citizens of the town as well as many other characters from the previous two books turn out to say good-bye to Mary. The children realize they're not leaving, but Mary is, and they rush to the nursery window and see her entering a house just like theirs, opening the door, and walking in. Later that evening, Mr. Banks sees a shooting star, and they all wish upon it, the children faintly make out Mary Poppins. They wave and she waves back to them. "Mary Poppins herself had flown away, but the gifts she had brought would remain for always."
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