The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May GibbsIf the title Snugglepot and Cuddlepie makes you wince, then this is not for you. For as the saying goes, what you see is what you get. On the other hand, if you just went Aww! at the title and picture, or you have a yen for childhood nostalgia, or you have very young children at the moment, then this is a treat. Older children may sneer contemptuously, or they may secretly rather enjoy it if they like cute stories. It is an Australian classic.
May Gibbs was an Australian author, although she was born and studied Art in the UK. She is now famous for her invention of the Gumnut babies who first appeared in illustrations she made for another author, Ethel Turner, and then on postcards May Gibbs produced, which depicted gumnut babies in uniform to support Australias role in World War One. She started writing stories about Gumnut babies and Gumblossom babies in 1916. Her most famous book about them, Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Their Adventure Wonderful was written in 1918. She went on to write many more.
The books are heavily anthropromorphic tales set in the Australian bush, and the illustrations balance the text perfectly; they are equally important. Enthusiasts collect these beautiful watercolours on their own merit. Reprints of the book often have small black and white versions of these pictures, but these are very unsatisfactory and lose a lot of the appeal.
Gumnut babies are miniature cherubs, smaller than a kookaburra and defenceless - easily carried off by an owl. They live amongst the foliage of the bush, alongside other Nuts and Blossoms. All these little cherubs are cared for by by various wild animals, such as Mr. Blue-cap Wren, Mrs. Kookaburra, and the kindly Mr. Lizard, but are also in danger from characters such as the spotted cat, screaming Native Bears (koalas) or the greedy owl who think gumnut babies are little grubs. Other creatures they encounter will try to help, such as a lizard who has been captured by Mrs. Snake, and on being freed allows them to ride on his back. A kangaroo too is a helpful cabman on whom they can ride. A dog is a monster, as is a human - potentially. But Snugglepot and Cuddlepie learn about humans when they watch one rescue a possum from a cruel trap. Mrs. Snake and Mrs. Ant are unknown quantities, acting as enemies protecting their young, when a gumnut baby inadvertently kills some of their babies, but neutral at other times. It is very much a young childs view of the world; experiences and lessons in trying to categorise safe and unsafe, and the adventure of learning is what is described in these stories.
It is a charming and fun way to learn such lessons, as well as gentle reminders about good manners, In the Bush everyone is polite when they are asked to be. The names are all very much of their time; Lilly Pilly, Mrs. Busy Blossom, Lanky Legs (a frog), The ultimate threat is there, in this case the Banksia men whom some Australian adults remember even today as giving them nightmares when they were little. The illustrations of the Banksia men are indeed scary for a young child. No cuteness here, just a hairy blob with a malevolent expression and long legs ending in clawed feet. These parts of the stories including the Banksia men are very akin to an imagined bogeyman. When we first meet one he is running away, carrying off a gumnut baby by the heels - a terrifying prospect.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, although not generally known outside Australia, is arguably that countrys best-loved childrens book. Its reputation in Australia compares with that of Peter Pan or The Water Babies in the UK, and it has the feel of both of these classics. The length of the text, the complexity of the language, plus the style and attitude of the narrator, are all similar. Although set in the Australian Bush, the influences are heavily European, not Aboriginal.
May Gibb died in Sydney in 1969, and the copyright from the designs and stories about all her Bush characters, plus the rest of her estate, were all left to three childrens charities.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie - Some words from May Gibbs
May Gibbs, First Edition
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is a series of books written by Australian author May Gibbs. The books chronicle the adventures of the eponymous Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. The central story arc concerns Snugglepot and Cuddlepie who are essentially homunculi and their adventures along with troubles with the villains of the story, the "Banksia Men". The first book of the series, Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: their wonderful adventures was published in Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the gumnut babies, are the protagonists of the story and are modelled on the appearance of young Eucalyptus gum tree nuts.
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Search RN. When you walk though the Australian bush, do you see banksia men in the trees or imagine gumnut babies hiding behind gum leaves? Next year is the centenary of the appearance of the first ever image of her iconic gumnut babies in
From: Aleph-Bet Books, Inc. Seller Rating:. Sydney: Angus Robertson no date . The wonderful fantasy world of the gum-nut babies portrayed in glorious detail. Illustrated by Gibbs with 2 full color plates and 20 wonderful sepia plates as well as pictorial endpapers and many line illustrations in-text.