The real world of the bedtime story

When I see our little cat cuddled up and snuggled up in her warm place like this,Snuggled

I always think “Snugglepot “or “Cuddlepie”.  Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are the main characters in a classic book from my childhood. They are not cats but fictitious Gumnut  babies. The book is The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, written and illustrated by May Gibbs. A Classic

So, why does a sleeping cat make me think of  Gumnuts?  I am not entirely sure. My mind works in strange ways, but there are three possibilities.  The first is the cuteness factor. Here are Snugglepot and Cuddlepie sleeping in their” second-hand houses”.Snuggled and Cuddled

And, here, they are overlooking a busy highroad. Snugglepot is helping himself to a grassroot bun. Secure

How cute are those illustrations!

The second possibility is to do with comfort, or a type of security blanket factor.

My siblings and I were lucky to grow up with  the comfort and security of bedtime stories. I don’t remember Snugglepot and Cuddlepie  being read to me but I do remember being cuddled up next to my sister, at bedtime, and reading it to her.   I associate Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with sweet and gentle times and the notion “That all will be well”.  Just as the sight of a peacefully resting cat reassures me that there must be a rightfulness to life, even if I can’t always see it.

The third possibility is the joy factor.  Both cat and book make me smile for the sheer joy of their existence. How can one frown at the sight of a sleeping cat? How can one not be amused and entertained by the humour and sensibility  in May Gibbs’ text. Here is an example of her writing; ” Gumnut Editors generally write backwards, because they say it takes longer to read that way, and the people think they are getting more news.” (Even back then the Press was trying to pull the wool over our eyes!)

And here is a piece from Snugglepot’s story. “Down, down, down he tumbled, right through the window into an Ant’s 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. “I’m so sorry,” said Snugglepot. “It can’t be helped,” said the Nurse. “What will their mother say?”, asked Snugglepot, brushing tears from his eyes. ” She won’t know,” said the Nurse, ‘ we have three hundred babies in the house.”

And I love the request from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at the beginning of the book which reads ” Humans, Please be kind to all Bush Creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots.”

May Gibbs( 1877-1969)( was Australia’s first full-time, professionally trained children’s book illustrator. She developed a uniquely Australian fantasy world . The first book about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published in 1918. May Gibbs not only brought great stories to children but, in her will, she remembered them by bequeathing the copyright from the designs of her bush characters and her stories to Northcott Disability Services and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of New South Wales, Australia. The rest of her estate was left to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.


22 thoughts on “The real world of the bedtime story

  1. LaVagabonde

    Sleeping animals have a way of softening the heart. I’d forgotten about growing up with bedtime stories. That’s a tradition I’m so grateful for. I wonder if people in this busy world still read to their children.

  2. Mary Mageau

    I enjoyed your delightful essay on Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, those cuter than cute little gumnut babies. May Gibbs was a wonderful writer of children’s stories and it is a joy to see her work appear on a blog.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hello, hello, Miss Marzipan. The last thing on my mind before I fell asleep yesterday was that I should send you a note to see how you were getting on. I turn on my computer this morning and see that you have been busy visiting my blog whilst I slept. It’s seems magical; like Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. I am thinking of you and your little ones and wishing you well.

  3. Mrs. P

    Oh…you mentioned koalas and kangaroos…then I won’t sound ridiculous telling you the first thing that popped into my head when I read the title of the book. Ha Ha. “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree…”
    Well, you know the rest, I’ll save you from hearing me sing.

    Lovely book…lovely memories and I had a cat just like that…he lived to be 19 years old! Great way to start my day!

  4. vsperry

    I don’t know these books but my mother had all the Oz books (well, almost all, I think she was still missing one when she died) and I grew up with a great fantasy/storytelling childhood. It definitely is a real comfort in stressful times. As is a sleeping cat.

  5. cindy knoke

    What a wonderful post. I have very old Flower and Vegetable Children books that were my mothers when she was young that are very similar. Very comforting lovely books. If a cat is sleeping all is right in the world…….Lovely post~

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh that would be a lovely book. My daughter was telling me that one of the old type books that she loved was the Water Babies. I must check up on that one too.

  6. utesmile

    I can understand why you think of this story, it looks like a delightful story, already the names snugglepot and cuddlepie are perfect for a cuddly story for me. Thanks for sharing this I had never heard of it. Absolutely delightful! Big cuddle from Ute x

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      May Gibbs was actually born in the UK and moved to Australia when she was four years old. I have had some fun re reading Snugglepot and Cuddlepie today. Glad to share a cuddly story with you. Your Teddy Bears might like to hear it.


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