Cecilia May Gibbs began her writing career at the tender age of 8. Although she was born in England, the Outback was her world and some of Australia’s most beloved children’s classics were birthed from her imaginative interpretation of the bush. She was first published in a local newspaper when she was but 12 years old. After she finished school she returned to England where she studied art and published her first book, About Us. She eventually returned to Australia where she continued to write many other beautiful children’s classics.
Gumnut Babies, Gibbs’ first book about the adorable Nuts and Blossoms, was published in 1916. Her most famous work, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (our personal favorite of all her works) was published shortly thereafter in 1918. May Gibbs wrote many books on the theme of the gumnut babies and her beloved bush creatures.
Excerpt from The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs:
“They awoke to the sound of gay music. A band was playing quite near, birds were singing, frogs croaking, cicadas and crickets and bees, and a little brook, all were in the band. It was a ragtime, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were restless. They heard voices.
“They are inside this wall,” said Cuddlepie. “Here’s a crack, let’s look in.” So they peeped, and there they saw a jolly party, all dancing very hard, as if they were in a great hurry but had nowhere to go. Quite near to them, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie saw a poor Blossom sitting all alone. Her dress was torn, and she was very dirty and sad-nobody wanted to dance with her.
“I’ll get in,” said Snugglepot, “and ask her to dance.”
So he crawled through the crack when no one was looking and asked the little Blossom to dance with him. The little girl was so pleased.
Now, Snugglepot couldn’t dance and the little girl couldn’t dance, so they got into everybody’s way, and everybody looked crossly at them. They heard someone say, “What a dirty little Blossom and the Nut has no clothes on. They ought not to be allowed in.”
Snugglepot was filled with pity for the poor little girl. “I’m sorry I’ve got no clothes,” he said. “Where I come from they don’t wear any.”
“That doesn’t matter,” said little Ragged Blossom. “It’s better to be a kind Nut with no clothes than an unkind one all dressed up.”
The endearing trait of the whimsical gumnut babies is the way in which they care for one another and their environment, even in the midst of perceived danger or ridicule. I have read these timeless classics to my children over and again and they have been some of our most beloved story times. We love these stories so much that I have actually carried my heavy book with it’s original dustcover on all of our journeys since we were gifted it by our most precious Aussie friends.
God Bless you and your little ones as you create precious memories of story-time together.