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"A Cover is Not the Book" is a song sung by Mary Poppins and Jack in the film Mary Poppins Returns. It is sung when Mary Poppins and Jack perform onstage with the animated animal characters in a musical number while the children Georgie, Annabel, and John watch their performance, alongside an all-animal audience.

Lyrics

Mary Poppins:
Uncle Gutenberg was a bookworm
And he lived on Charing Cross
The memory of his volumes
Brings a smile

He would read me lots of stories
When he wasn't on the sauce
Now I'd like to share the wisdom
Of my favorite bibliophile

He said...

A cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
'Cause under the covers one discovers
That the king may be a crook

Chapter titles are like signs
And if you read between the lines
You'll find your first impression was mistook
For a cover is nice, but a cover is not the book!

Audience:
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ra-ta-ta-ta!
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ra-ta-ta-ta!

Penguin:
Mary Poppins, could you give us an example?

Mary Poppins:
Certainly.

Nellie Rubina was made of wood
But what could not be seen
Was though her trunk up top was barren
Well, her roots were lush and green

So in Spring when Mr. Hick'ry
Saw her blossoms bloomin' there
He took root despite her bark
And now there's seedlings everywhere!

Mary Poppins and Jack:
Which proves a cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
'Cause under the covers one discovers
That the king may be a crook

Jack:
Chapter titles are like signs

Mary Poppins:
And if you read between the lines

Mary Poppins and Jack:
You'll find your first impression was mistook
For a cover is nice, but a cover is not the book!

Jack:
Should we do the one about the wealthy widow?

Mary Poppins:
By all means!

Jack:
Always loved that one!

Mary Poppins:
Oh, go on then.

Jack:
Lady Hyacinth Macaw
Brought all her treasures to a reef

Mary Poppins:
Where she only wore a smile

Jack:
Plus two feathers and a leaf

Mary Poppins:
So no one tried to rob her
'Cause she barely wore a stitch

Jack:
For when you're in your birthday suit

Mary Poppins and Jack:
There ain't much there to show you're rich

All:
Oh, a cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
'Cause under the covers one discovers
That the king may be a crook
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ru-ra-la, ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ra-ta-ta!

Mary Poppins and Jack:
You'll find your first impression was mistook
Ya-da-da-da
For a cover is nice, but a cover is not the book!

Mary Poppins:
Oh, give us the one about the Dirty Rascal, why don't ya?

Jack:
Isn't that one a bit long?

Mary Poppins:
Well, the quicker you're into it, the quicker you're out of it.

Jack:
Once upon a time,
In a nursery rhyme
There was a castle with a king
Hiding in a wing
'Cause he never went to school to learn a single thing

He had sceptres and swords
And a parliament of lords
But on the inside he was sad,
Egad!

Because he never had a wisdom for numbers
A wisdom for words
Though his crown was quite immense
His brain was smaller than a bird's

So the queen of the nation
Made a royal proclamation
To the Misses and the Messrs
The More-or-Lessers
Bring me all the land's professors
Then she went to the hairdresser's

And they came from the east
And they came from the south
From each college they poured knowledge
From their brains into his mouth

But the king couldn't learn
So each professor met their fate
For the queen had their heads removed
And placed upon the gate

And on that date
I state their wives all got a note
Their mate was now the late-great

But then suddenly one day
A stranger started in to sing
He said I'm the Dirty Rascal
And I'm here to teach the king

And the queen clutched her jewels
For she hated royal fools
But this fool had some rules
They really ought to teach in schools

Like you'll be a happy king
If you enjoy the things you've got
You should never try to be
The finer person that you're not

So they sang and they laughed,
For the king had found a friend
And they ran on to a rainbow
For the story's perfect end

So the moral is you mustn't let
The outside be the guide
For it's not so cut and dried
Well, unless it's Dr. Jekyll,
Then you'd better hide, petrified!

No, the truth can't be denied
As I know I've testified
All that really counts and matters
Is the special stuff inside

Audience:
Hooray! He did it!

All:
Oh, a cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
'Cause under the covers one discovers
That the king may be a crook

Mary Poppins:
So please listen to what we've said

Jack:
And open a book tonight in bed

Mary Poppins and Jack:
So one more time
Before we get the hook

Jack:
Sing it out strong!

Audience:
A cover is nice

Mary Poppins:
Please take our advice

Audience:
A cover is nice

Jack:
Or you'll pay the price!

Audience:
A cover is nice

All:
But a cover is not the book!

Audience:
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ru-ra-la-la
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ru-ra-la-la
Ta-ru-ra-lee, ta-ru-ra-la-la, la, la!

Videos

Trivia

  • All characters and scenarios mentioned in the song come from the books P.L Travers wrote.
  • Mary Poppins sings the first verse in her Queen's English accent, then the rest of it in a cockney accent. It is the only time in either film that she uses a different accent.


v - e - d
Mary Poppins Logo.png
Media
Films: Mary Poppins (video/soundtrack) • Mary Poppins Returns (video/soundtrack) • The Cat That Looked at a KingMusicalThe Legacy CollectionPractically Poppins in Every Way: A Magical Carpetbag of Countless Wonders
Disney Parks
Garden of the Twelve FriendsMary PoppinsThe Great Movie Ride

Entertainment: Disney Adventure Friends CavalcadeDisney's BelieveDisney Classics: The Music & The MagicFollow Your DreamsMickey's Magical Music WorldOne Man's Dream II: The Magic Lives OnOnce Upon a Mouse
Restaurants: Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
Parades: Celebrate A Dream Come True ParadeDisney's Dreams On Parade: Moving OnDisney's Magical Moments ParadeDisney's Party ExpressDisney Cinema ParadeDisney Magic on ParadeDisney on Parade: 100 Years of MagicDisney Stars on ParadeDisney Stars 'n' CarsDreaming Up!Happiness is Here ParadeMickey's Soundsational ParadeThe Wonderful World of Disney Parade
Fireworks: Believe... There's Magic in the StarsDisney Dreams!Disney Movie MagicDisneyland ForeverFantasy in the SkyMagical
Spring: Disney's Easter WonderlandDisney's Spring Promenade

Characters
Mary Poppins: Mary PoppinsBertGeorge BanksWinifred BanksJane BanksMichael BanksPenguin WaitersFoxAdmiral Boom and Mr. BinnacleUncle AlbertMr. Dawes Sr.Katie NannaMrs. BrillEllenMr. Dawes Jr.Constable JonesThe Pearly BandMiss LarkChimney Sweeps

Mary Poppins Returns: William Weatherall WilkinsJackTopsyThe Balloon LadyClydeShamusJohn BanksAnnabel BanksGeorgie BanksAngusHamilton Gooding and Templeton FryeThe Park KeeperPenny FarthingLamplighters
The Cat That Looked at a King: CatKing
Musical: Miss Andrew

Locations
LondonCherry Tree LaneEnglish Countryside Painting
Songs
Mary Poppins: Sister SuffragetteThe Life I LeadThe Perfect NannyA Spoonful of SugarSobre las OlasJolly HolidaySupercalifragilisticexpialidociousStay AwakeI Love to LaughFeed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)A British BankFidelity Fiduciary BankChim Chim Cher-eeStep in TimeA Man Has DreamsLet's Go Fly a Kite

Mary Poppins Returns: (Underneath the) Lovely London SkyA ConversationCan You Imagine That?The Royal Doulton Music HallA Cover is Not the BookThe Place Where Lost Things GoTurning TurtleTrip a Little Light FantasticNowhere to Go But Up
Musical: Temper, TemperPractically PerfectAnything Can HappenBrimstone and TreaclePlaying the GameBeing Mrs. BanksGood for NothingCherry Tree LanePrecision and Order
Deleted Songs: The Anthropomorphic ZooThe ChimpanzooThe Right SideThe Land of SandAdmiral BoomMary Poppins' MelodyYou Think, You BlinkThrough The Eyes of LoveWest WindTiki TownThe North Pole Polka

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