With the recent unpacking of cartons containing the books of my children’s childhood, I have been a little reflective of late. Let’s blame May Gibbs, shall we.
May Gibbs was an English-born Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist. She is best known for her gumnut babies ( also known as bush babies) and the series of books about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
As a child May lived in rural communities in both South Australia and Western Australia spending much of her time observing the beauty of the Australian bush.
I grew up on the stories of the beautiful little gumnut babies who were always being chased by the wicked Banksia men. To this day, when I am going past a Banksia tree in the wild I acknowledge a slight fear because I know full well the intentions of those “ big, bad Banksia men”.
My eldest daughter has always been a huge fan of the gumnut babies, and as a baby chewed threw her first copy of the book. Literally. When she left here recently she took the replacement copy along with her, teeth marks and all.
My ex father-in-law was a worldly man. A Liverpool Scouse who had travelled the world as a Merchant Seaman and Master Mariner, and towards the end of his career was working to keep the unions in line.
It was only when the grand daughters entered his sphere that this tough old bugger became acquainted with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and he became enchanted with the artwork of Gibbs. I still remember a Devonshire Tea at Gibbs’ house in Sydney surrounded by her beloved bushland many, many years ago. “ Charming”, I can hear him say in an accent that took me three years to decipher. Charming is not an often used word from an old sea dog……
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie remain much loved figures to this day. One hundred years on their images are to be splashed over Customs House in Sydney during the coming Vivid (Arts) Festival.
Theses are the stories we need to keep alive……