ISBN 10: 1460755863
In this the centenary celebration year of May Gibbs’ iconic Australian children’s book, Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie , how perfectly timely it is to have a new book which brings the creator to life for younger readers.
When May first wrote her stories she probably had little idea how much they would become ingrained in her adopted country’s cultural psyche nor how beloved her characters would become.
The woman who imagined the little bush folk is the subject of Tania McCartney’s new book as it details the early life of May – known as Mamie to her family. As a little girl in England this little girl was typical of her era relishing fairy tales and woodland creatures, drawing and painting and allowing her imagination to run wild with the inhabitants of the local woods and meadows.
When her family immigrated to Australia Mamie could not fathom this very different country. Where would her beloved fairies live in this often harsh climate and untamed bush?
But gradually Mamie realised that fairy folk live everywhere, that perhaps they just look rather different and have different adventures and thus the Gumnut Babies, the flower fairies, the wicked Banksia men and all the population of the wild Australian landscape came to life under her magical touch.
And in similar fashion Tania has breathed life and energy in Mamie’s story and very cleverly illustrated it in a contemporary style to which children will easily relate. Each page contains glorious tiny details for readers to pore over excitedly, the whole retaining the original freshness, quality and magic of May’s own work.
When I decided to celebrate the centenary with little people at school, there were some who were dubious about the children of today even knowing the books or being interested but I am happy to say that the past term sharing the adventures with Year 1 and culminating in making their own little gumnut babies to take home was a resounding success. It thrills me to know that another generation loves the stories and will take them on into their lives.
We only have a couple of days left with our kids but I am desperate to share Mamie’s story with them so they can also take with them some knowledge about a woman who brought so much joy to so many people.
Thank you Tania for turning the spotlight so successfully on one of our national treasures in this the special year of their long lives! As usual your own work will stand the test of time alongside the originals with its dainty and sweet words and illustrations.
Highly recommended for readers from around four years upwards – and a perfect Christmas present for this year.
I still have my original copy (from around my 5th birthday) – do you have yours?