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Mamie (Tania McCartney, HarperCollins)

This year marks the 100th anniversary since the publication of May Gibbs’ beloved Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Joining the centenary celebrations is Tania McCartney’s latest picture book Mamie, which explores Gibbs’ childhood move to Australia, where she eventually finds inspiration in the bush. Mamie (Gibbs’ nickname) is a bright little soul as she floats ‘through simmering bushland’ and dreams of a ‘little fairy with a gumnut on his head’. Young readers will no doubt be inspired by Mamie sending her pictures to the Queen of England, and by McCartney’s cheerful animals and little bush fairies (with a few naked bottoms, just like the gumnut babies!). Parents and grandparents who grew up with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the Gumnut Babies will reminisce over McCartney’s skilful gumnut illustrations, full of pinks, greens, and dotted yellows. The gumnuts are not just outdoors, but slowly creep into Mamie’s bedroom (on the wallpaper) and onto her toys (as little dresses, just like the original characters’ loincloths and tutus), showing her eventual acceptance and appreciation of the Australian bush. The final spread provides historical information about Gibbs’ life and career, placing Mamie in the context of who she grew up to be. Mamie will suit children 3 years old and over, and would be a great accompaniment to reading May Gibbs’ original playful stories.

Clare Millar is a publishing assistant and writer

 

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