Title: Tales from the Billabong
Author: May Gibbs and Jane Massam
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: September 2016
Synopsis: ‘Go, Snugglepot!’ Cuddlepie was at the sidelines, cheering wildly for his friend. Snugglepot was in the lead! ‘Whee!’ Snugglepot exclaimed, tingling from the top of his head to the very tips of his toes. He had never gone so fast before.
Join Snugglepot and Cuddlepie on their enchanting adventures through the Australian bush. With an exciting billycart race, leapfrog fun and a dazzling firefly ball, prepare to fall in love with May Gibbs’ classic characters.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie have charmed generations of Australian children for generations. The two little Gum-Nut babies and their other flower, and bush baby friends, together with Mrs Kookaburra and Mr Lizard, race in the Billabong Cup, fly a kite, and attend the Firefly Ball. The mischievous brothers embark on new adventures, in the same world that author May Gibbs created for them to introduce them to a new generation and to continue the stories that so many of us grew up on, loved and for many, would have been our first introduction to Australian literature, the Australian bush and an imagined world of beauty, untouched by humans. The Billabong they live by is untouched, and full of beauty. The language used combined with the May Gibbs original illustrations and the newer ones in the same style evokes the original stories and the beauty of the Australian bush. It is Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’s home- and it is the place that has inspired many Australian authors over the years. May Gibbs is just one of these wonderful authors whose legacy continues to inspire and help people today through The Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
This is the first picture book I have reviewed on the blog, as I mostly review novels and longer fiction, but the chance to promote a much-loved Australian author such as May Gibbs to new readers in Australia and across the world as the centenary of the Gum-Nut Babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie approaches, coinciding with the final years of the First World War Centenary. Some propaganda posters had Gum-Nut Babies on them, contributing to the popularity and transcendence of these characters – something I hope to discuss more in future posts about May Gibbs and these books. The Tales From series uses May Gibbs characters and illustrations with text by Jane Massam.
The stories and characters that May Gibbs created are unique to Australia. In this new book, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are given a breath of new life, and will be an excellent companion to the Gum-Nut Babies, and The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
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