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Julie Andrews is staying active at 88 and writing books with daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. She says her training as a child star ‘gave me a work ethic.’

This year marks 60 years since Julie Andrews made her film debut in Mary Poppins, a role that not only earned the entertainment icon a Best Actress Oscar, but also established her as a beloved performer for generations of children. More than half a century later, the 88-year-old Andrews shows no signs of slowing down. It’s her voice you hear as Lady Whistledown, the gossip-loving narrator of Netflix’s period drama Bridgerton, and she and her eldest daughter, children’s book author and educator Emma Walton Hamilton, have just released their 35th book together, Waiting in the Wings (more about that later).

Andrews credits her stamina to her early theatrical upbringing. The British star’s mother and stepfather were both entertainers who were quick to recognize her talent, and much of her childhood was spent taking music lessons and performing on stage alongside them. “I am grateful for the early years of my life when the training was very disciplined and crazy. … It gave me a work ethic and made me really have to be good,” she tells Yahoo Life.

While she’s no longer breaking out in the sort of boisterous dance routines made famous in movie musicals like Thoroughly Modern Millie and Victor/Victoria, Andrews continues to stay active. “I have all my life worked out first thing in the morning or something like that — a little less so these days,” she says. Going to the theater or unwinding with a good TV show or film remains a joy. “It used to be nothing but singing practice or dancing lessons … but it’s all part of that same stimulation for me.”

Walton Hamilton — whose father, the late Tony Walton, earned an Oscar nomination for his work as a costume and set designer on Mary Poppins — has her own theory on what keeps her famous mother thriving. “I think it’s because Mom is at heart a curious person,” she tells Yahoo Life. “She stays very interested and very curious about creativity.”

“And I’m still learning about it,” Andrews cuts in. “I mean, it is nothing that I feel rushing out of me, and it takes quite a lot of thought and [teamwork] together and so on.”

When it comes to children’s bestsellers, that teamwork comes from collaborating with Walton Hamilton. Beginning with the Dumpy the Dumptruck series in 2000, mother and daughter have written nearly three dozen books together, winning the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for Children in 2011 and launching a 2017 Netflix series for children, Julie’s Greenroom. Their latest picture book, Waiting in the Wings, takes inspiration from the Bay Street Theater Walton Hamilton and her husband co-founded in Sag Harbor, N.Y., in 1991. Just as in the story, a pair of ducks set up their nest in a planter in the theater’s courtyard.

“People would pass through the courtyard by the hundreds coming and going to see shows, and we were so worried that something would threaten the ducks and they would abandon the eggs, or something would happen to them,” Walton Hamilton shares. But the story has a happy ending — as does the book, which features vibrant illustrations from EG Keller and the sort of magical, anthropomorphic twist one might expect from, well, Mary Poppins.

“Of course you can’t have ducks nesting at a theater in a children’s book without at least one of them going inside and seeing a show,” Walton Hamilton laughs.

So long as those creative juices continue to flow, the duo looks forward to working together on more books for children. As Andrews says, “There’s nothing better than a mum sitting a child on her lap and tracing the words with a finger. And children learn to read so much faster that way if you can make it a fun time and a good time.”

Walton Hamilton’s own children have inspired some of their stories, and continue in their own way to carry on the family’s tradition in the arts. And believe it or not, they’re not so fazed with having Mary, Fräulein Maria or Queen Clarisse Renaldi of Genovia as their grandmother.

“It’s a little different for kids this generation because they have grown up with YouTube and cellphones and selfies and things like that,” Walton Hamilton says. “So seeing granny on the screen is not very different to them from seeing themselves on the screen.”

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