We are celebrating 100 years of May Gibbs and her lovely Children’s Stories that have captured the hearts of many Australians over the years.
With yellowed pages and creased spine, Gumnut Babies by May Gibbs has taken pride of place on my family’s bookshelves for at least seventy, but more likely eighty to ninety, years. My great grandmother read it to my grandmother; my grandmother read it to my mum; my mum read it to me; and when my children are a little older I look forward to sharing it with them. May Gibbs’ books are such classics that they are still enjoyed by several generations, mostly with fond memories and appreciation for the beautiful illustrations and well-written stories.
The story of May Gibbs, the author and illustrator, is one of determination and dedication, and is quite an admirable one.
One part in particular that really caused me to fall in love with May Gibbs not just as an author and illustrator, but also as a person, was upon reading her story on the maygibb.org page. This is just a snippet of the fascinating biography that really impressed me: “At the onset of World War I, May contributed by creating postcards featuring gumnut characters and Australian animals to be sent by families and in Red Cross parcels to the diggers across the world. These helped establish the foundation of fans and held pride of place in a nation’s psyche during a time of turmoil.”
My favourite memories of May Gibbs’ books are that of gazing at the iconic illustrations as Mum read the stories aloud to my sister & I.
As an avid book lover from a very young age, May Gibbs’ stories became my security blanket to an extent. Isn’t it funny how the familiar becomes the safe and comforting? Whenever I was sick or out of sorts, I’d read my favourite stories over and over. Mum would borrow the ones we didn’t own from the library and I would soak them up on the school holidays: there always seemed to be so many to enjoy! Dad used to tell me to go outside and play with my siblings (I’d happily read all day every day if let be), and I’d always take my book with me to read in the garden, usually up a tree in the cool shade. I just felt there was a part of me missing if I didn’t have a book readily at my disposal. Although I do remember sitting on the grass by the garden with my little sister, recreating May Gibbs’s stories and trying to balance a little gumnut on top of a small round stone to look like a Gumnut Baby, a Banksia cone perched nearby as the baddie (Banksia Man). Ah good times!
My other grandmother had a copy of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and each time we visited she’d bring it down and leave it on a lower shelf for us to enjoy as we pleased.
We knew how old and treasured May Gibbs’ books were by our grandmothers, and being trusted with them made us feel very grownup and special. My Nanna absolutely loves Australian fauna and flora, and I remember her pointing out the beauty and uniqueness of seeing our bush flowers between the pages of such lovely books, and the leaves and flowers when we walked around her bushland property with her.
“Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” was May Gibbs’ first full length book and was published in 1918: 100 years ago this year!
As part of the 100 year anniversary celebrations, I have been lucky enough to receive a beautiful box of May Gibbs chocolates from Coco Chocolate. Each box of chocolates feature a mix of organic white, milk and dark chocolates with Official May Gibbs Artworks in cocoa butter on every (generously sized) chocolate. The edible artwork on the chocolates are such a gorgeous touch, and the box that the chocolates are presented in is sturdy and also features May Gibb’s unique illustrations. Each May Gibbs box of chocolates raises donations to Northcott, providing services and support for people with disabilities, their families and carers. The commemorative chocolates are available in a box of 6 or 12, and are really wonderful gifts. The box of 6 is $25, and the box of 12 is $45 and can be found at http://cocochocolate.com.au/shop/collection/chocolate-boxes/official-may-gibbs-collection-coco-twelve-chocolate-box-plain/.
I have loved having the opportunity to share my May Gibbs memories, and I’m sure many mums have at least one of her iconic books on their bookshelves, and what better way to honour this special occasion than by sharing our memories and maybe a chocolate or two to spark those memories in others.
We would love to hear your stories about May Gibbs and to celebrate 100 years of May Gibbs, you could win a beautiful May Gibbs Prize Pack including books, jewellery and chocolates for mum. Enter here: http://bit.ly/MayGibbsWIN