MAY GIBBS: MORE THAN A FAIRY TALE
Robert Holden & Jane Brummitt, Hardie Grant Books, $30
May Gibbs has been a household name in Australia since her gumnut babies first appeared in 1913. However, details of her life have remained elusive. Authors Robert Holden and Jane Brummitt write that Gibbs’ life followed a similar trajectory to writer Miles Franklin, “both travelling overseas gaining formative experiences, as well as involving themselves in the suffrage movement”. But while Franklin left behind extensive written documentation, details of Gibbs’ life have been buried in “autobiographical scraps”, newspapers, shipping records, exhibition and concert catalogues, programs and reviews, and the minds of relatives. Her illustrations for magazine covers revealed her artistic endeavours before she focused on children’s literature. Gibbs went on to become Australia’s first professionally trained book illustrator. Richly illustrated with her drawings, portraiture, watercolours, sketches, cartoons and postcards, this book surprises and delights. It also ensures Gibbs is more than folklore.