Of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

One thing that I tend to do when I’m feeling sad, sick or just a little nostalgic is watching kids shows and reading some of my own old children’s books. Recently I re-read the first of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’s adventures (simply called Snugglepot and Cuddlepie) by May Gibbs. I was shocked about how sorry I felt for the “villain” Mrs Snake. I guess as an adult I’ve learnt though life experience and other media that so called “villains” all have their own story and may not be as bad as we think they are.


Gumnut babies such as Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were inspired by the Australian bush



Early on in the story Mrs Snake has her whole family murdered by Mr Lizard (whom was giving them to Mrs Kookaburra to eat). Throughout the story Mrs Snake seeks revenge on Mr Lizard with the help of the evil Banksia men. One of her schemes also involves hurting Snugglepot, Cuddlepie and their friend Ragged Blossom in order to get to Mr Lizard. In the end Mrs Snake is killed and everyone is happy because no one really liked her (she was a snake after all), although Mrs Kookaburra may like to eat her…

For me it really broke the stereotype that kids stories are all filled with happy characters in a generally safe world with a key moral lesson to be learned. I wouldn’t even call Snugglepot and Cuddlepie wonderful role models. While they do help people during their adventures they begin by running away from home and destroy a mother bird’s eggs. Mostly the brothers just have fun enjoying the sights of the city without suffering any consequences themselves what so ever.


I do wonder what kind of message this sends to kids, but a children’s world is still a relatively simple one. If everyone hates Mrs Snake or the Wicked Witch then they must be bad. It’s always a lot more complicated when try to explain that people are neither pure good or bad. I tend to think that stories such as these haven’t had a negative effect on me, but when I look back on my primary school days there was a girl that no one liked making it “okay” to dislike her too. Her name was Natalie, but people tended to call her Nitalie because it was said that she always had nits in her hair. Even her elder sister complained about her. Perhaps she really was an annoying person and maybe she really did have nits, but I never once (that I can remember) actually got to know her…

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