I have a little boy from Australia in my 2nd grade this year, and he brought a book to school recently to share with the class. None of us had ever heard of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie before, but we have become real fans! We’ve been reading it aloud together and loving it!
For those of you that have never heard of it, either, it’s a classic children’s book and a cultural treasure in Australia, originally published in 1918. The author and illustrator, May Gibbs, lived in Sydney’s Neutral Bay, and her beautiful home overlooking the water is now a museum.
She created her fairyland characters from the nature that surrounded her, and the fantasy world they inhabit is full of humor, friendship and kindness. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are gumnut babies. The Bad Banksia men in the book were inspired by the local Banksia blossoms.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie have adventure after adventure, and meet all kinds of creatures, both good and bad. My students complain each time I have to stop reading: “You stopped at the best part, Mrs. R!”
It’s been a sweet read and a delightful way to learn about a culture different from our own. It’s also been fun for me to have my own little Australian accent coach, who keeps trying to teach me how to pronounce things correctly. He’s been very patient with me!
Since reading this delightful little book, I would love to visit Sydney, and spend some time at May Gibbs home. Unfortunately, I missed the musical version of the story, which was performed last January at the Theatre Royal.
I’m going to include this book as one of my books for Carl V’s Once Upon a Time II challenge because it’s a fun fantasy read that should be discovered and appreciated.