One of the things we regret, after our children had grown up, was not having had many of May Gibbs' delightful childrens books around
for them to read, and to have them read to..... so, to put this to rights, we have much pleasure in presenting to you, and them and their children, in part, the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie......just to whet your appetites!!
They are truly delightful, and, together with their author, are Icons in Australian literature..... The illustrations that accompany the stories were hers too..... and indeed have become her hallmark.
The background picture to this page is 'Wattle Babies' and the other graphics are 'The Gumnuts' and 'Snugglepot & Cuddlepie' - all drawn by her.
May Gibbs lived, for a greater part of her life, in Neutral Bay, Sydney, and upon her death in 1969, she left her estate to be used for the care of disabled children. Proceeds from the sales of her books and drawings
and other memorabilia now benefit the Spastic Centre of N.S.W and the N.S.W Society for Crippled Children. As do the admission and sales proceeds from her home 'Nutcote', which has been restored and is open to the public.
A visit to the official May Gibbs website 'Nutcote' is well worth it....it is full of interesting information about how the stories evolved and May's life. Also they have all the books and more for sale available on line! You will
find their link below.
Here are the adventures
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
They were foster-brothers,
and this is how it came about.
When Cuddlepie was very small Ė
that is, when he had only been out of the bud a few hours Ė
a great wind arose and,
lifting him out of his motherís arms,
carried him far across the tops of many trees and left him in a spider-web.
This saved his life, but again he nearly lost it,
for a short-sighted old bird,
mistaking him for a grub, was about to eat him up,
when a Nut, beholding, shouted
"Bird! Bird! mind the snake."
The old bird, very frightened, flew away.
Then the kind Nut climbed up the spider-web,
lifted up the little cold, weeping baby
and gently carried him home.
Now this was the home of Snugglepot,
and the kind Nut was his father.
Here then lived Cuddlepie side by side with Snugglepot,
and they grew strong and fat as you see them in the pictures.
One day a wise old Kookaburra
came to the neighbourhood.
All the Blossoms and Nuts crowded in to hear him speak.
"I am old! I have traveled! I have seen Humans!
Humans are strong as the Wind,
swift as the River, fierce as the Sun.
They can scratch one stick upon another and,
lo, there will be a Bush Fire.
They love the Fire.
The male Human carries it about in his skin
and the smoke comes out of his nostrils.
They whistle like the birds; they are cruel as the snake.
They have many skins which they take off many times.
When all the skins are off
the Human looks like a pale frog."
Those Strange Humans
Now Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
were scared all over to hear of these things,
so they went often to listen to the wise Kookaburra.
said Mr. Kookaburra,
"are as bad as bad,
but there must be bad things in this world as well as good.
It would be very awkward for me if there were no snakes to eat."
And Snugglepot and Cuddlepie thought very much about it all.
One day they asked Mr. Blue-cap Wren if it were all true.
"Quite," said he,
"I have some relations living in the Sydney Domain, and I know."
"I want to see a Human," said Snugglepot.
"In the distance," said Cuddlepie.
The Journey Begins
One very hot night,
when the Cicadas were singing so loudly
that Snugglepot couldnít hear his father snoring,
he and Cuddlepie
crept out of bed and out of the house.
"Where are you going?" asked Cuddlepie.
"To see the Humans," said Snugglepot.
"Only in the distance," pleaded Cuddlepie.
Then they began their journey.
When they had walked a long way Snugglepot said,
"It is nearly day,
let us pretend to be birds so that no one will know us."
"Yes," said Cuddlepie; "but we canít fly."
They found an old nest
and took the feathers from it and dressed themselves in them.
When the Sun rose they were far from home.
In the little home the kind father and mother
and little baby brother
had looked out all night long into the darkness,
but Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were far away.
An Awkward Mistake
No one had known them,
but all who passed them had said,
"What strange birds!"
Then Snugglepot had chuckled in his neck,
and Cuddlepie had chuckled in his neck too.
All day they walked upon a busy highroad.
See them in the picture Ė
Snugglepot is leaning out of a nut helping himself to a bun.
It is a grass-root bun.
At last it grew dark and,
being very tired, they went to sleep in a hollow tree.
Now it so happened that a very greedy Owl lived in this tree.
When Cuddlepie went to sleep
Snugglepot had covered him with all the feathers to keep him cosy.
So when the greedy Owl opened his eyes
the first thing he blinked at
was Snuggle-potís little fair body lying in the moonlight.
Pink Mouse! Pink Mouse!
and I'm so hungry," muttered the greedy owl.
Then he pounced upon Snugglepot
and flew with him out into the sky.
Poor Baby Ants
At the flutter of wings Cuddlepie awoke.
When he saw the terrible thing that was happening
he screamed aloud,
"Take me ! Take me!
I donít want to be left.
I would rather be eaten with Snugglepot than live alone without him."
But the greedy Owl flew on,
away, away till he was but a speck in the distance.
Poor little Cuddlepie tried to run after them,
but the tears in his eyes
were so big that he could not see which way to go.
Now the greedy Owl
had a greedy wife,
and in his haste to get his pink mouse out of her way
he had not noticed that he was carrying a Gumnut Baby,
and not a pink mouse at all.
When he saw his mistake
he was so shocked that he let Snugglepot fall.
Down, down, down he tumbled,
right through the window into an Antís house.
A tired night-nurse saw him coming,
but before she could do anything
he had crashed in and killed several babies.
This was a blessing for Snugglepot,
but it was sadly hard on the baby ants.
"Iím so sorry," said Snugglepot.
"It canít be helped," said the Nurse.
Kind Mrs. Fantail
"What will their mother say?" asked Snugglepot,
brushing tears from his eyes.
"She wonít know," said the Nurse,
"we have three hundred babies in the house."
The Nurse was a kind person.
When Snugglepot had told his story
she patted his back and said,
"I have a sister who works for a Blossom Lady near here.
They will help you."
She pointed the way to Snugglepot and he soon found the house.
It was now early morning
and the Blossom was taking her bath,
but when the Nurseís sister gave her Snugglepotís message
she hastily dressed and came to see him.
While they were talking
a bird flew in with the news
that a poor little Gumnut Baby was down in the road,
weeping and crying out in great distress.
"Itís my brother," cried Snugglepot.
"Then come," said the bird,
"get on my back",
and she flew with him straight
to where poor little Cuddlepie was wandering.
When he saw Snugglepot,
Cuddlepie ran into his arms
and held him so tightly about the neck
that Snugglepot was nearly choked.
Snugglepot did not like kissing in public,
so he said,
"We must thank kind Mrs. Bird."
"Fantail is my name," said she.
"Mrs. Fantail," said Snugglepot,
"can we do anything to please you, maíam?"
Mrs. Fantail was rather a gadabout,
so she said,
"Yes, Iíd be so obliged if youíd step up
and mind my eggs for me while I pay some calls."
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were glad to be of use.
They climbed up into her nest and she went off gaily.
She was a long time away.
"I think," said Snugglepot, "these eggs are getting cold."
Mr. Lizard Helps
"Weíd better sit on them," said Cuddlepie.
"Sit light, then," said Snugglepot.
"I will," said Cuddlepie; so they both sat on the eggs.
The sun was warm,
and all the bees round the tea-trees were singing a lazy tune.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
had been up all night and were very tired,
so they fell asleep and sat hard,
and all the eggs were broken.
When they woke up they cried aloud,
"Oh!!, whatever shall we do?"
A big Lizard looked up from below.
"Whatís the matter?" he asked.
When they told him he only smiled.
"Why, I can get you some eggs that will do just as well," said he,
and disappeared in a flash.
Presently he came back with two lovely eggs,
all warm, so they put them in the nest,
and the Lizard, having nothing to do,
said he would ride them along their way.
They chatted as they went along
and soon became very good friends.
By and by they entered a village.
There, they were surprised to see an Editor
writing all about them in his Newspaper.
Gumnut Editors generally write backwards,
because they say it takes longer to read that way,
and the people think they are getting more news.
"Why, there are our portraits," said Snugglepot.
"Oh, Mr. Lizard,"
they cried, "please ride us away as fast as you can."
When Mr. Lizard heard
that they were travelling far to see a Human,
he said he would like to go with them,
and if they liked he would ride them all the way,
for he had taken a great fancy to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie,
and they already loved him; so it was agreed.
He went back to say good-bye to his wife,
promising to return at once.
In the meantime
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie bought
two little secondhand houses from a wayside shop.
(Gumnuts always carry money in their caps.)
"They will be warm to sleep in, the nights are getting cold," said Snugglepot,
"and we can rest till Mr. Lizard comes back."
So they settled in and both went fast asleep.........................
Aren't they absolutely lovely?
May we suggest that if you would like to continue reading these delightful stories yourself, you could, by either
borrowing the books from your children, your friends, your local library, or buying them from any good bookstore,
All material including graphics are the property of the Spastic Centre of N.S.W. and the Northcott Society,
and used here with the kind permission of the Northcott Society