There are very few things we can say have stood the test of time and maintained relevancy for one hundred years, appealing to people old and young – but this is certainly true of May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding, which have never been out of print since 1918.
Quintessentially Australian, these enchanting titles have remained a popular part of mainstream culture for an entire century. To celebrate this astonishing feat, Angus & Robertson (an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books) has released special centenary editions that old fans will treasure and new generations will adore. Visually stunning and incredibly sentimental, these new editions feature not only the unique and beloved artwork and writing of Gibbs and Lindsay, but also a detailed history and account of their lives, and recounts of how these wonderful stories evolved. For many, it will be a delightful trip down memory lane, and a gorgeous, deeply Australian piece of nostalgia to share with younger generations.
But the big question is, how have these titles managed to stand the test of time? Why, one hundred years after their very first print run, do these stories still hold so much appeal? Obviously, apart from being talented writers with a wicked sense of humour and great imagination, both May Gibbs and Norman Lindsay possessed a deep love for Australia flora and fauna, and many believe it’s precisely this joyous celebration of the Australian landscape and its animals that makes their books so magical. Each title is a celebration of Australia’s unique natural glory and beauty – an ode to the bounty and majesty of the place that so many of us are lucky to call home. (And in the case of Lindsay, to our love of pudding).
The endurance of these titles also speaks strongly to the importance of children’s literature, and the lasting effect that the stories we read in our youth have on our lives as we develop into adults. Magical stories such as Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and The Magic Pudding teach and guide us, leaving behind a wonderful sense of warmth and comfort that we carry with us as we grow old. There is also a universal quality to children’s literature: at its core, it is about learning and discovery – something that remains a constant in our lives, long after we have abandoned the kid’s books for those with thicker spines.
Not only are these titles still incredibly popular as books (Snugglepot and Cuddlepie made the Better Reading Top 50 Kids List this year), they are also popular icons in the arts, and have been adapted for both theatre and television. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie has inspired a ballet of the same name, multiple musicals, and other works of fiction. At the 2018 Vivid Sydney light festival, May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie artwork was projected onto the façade of Sydney’s beautiful 1845 Customs House. Similarly, The Magic Pudding has been adapted into a feature-length film, a theatre production, and an opera.
Both Mary Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding, are Australian children’s classics, nostalgic gems for many, yet to be discovered riches for future generations, and we hope to see them in print for many more years to come.
Read our review of the centenary editions here