Forward to the 1950s, Trevor Agnew

The Adventures of Hutu and Kawa
Avis Acres (text and illus)
Puffin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143507055

First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest Adventure
David Hill (Phoebe Morris illus)
Puffin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143506874

Changing Times: The Story of a New Zealand Town and its Newspaper
Bob Kerr (text and illus)
Potton and Burton, $20.00, ISBN 9781927213537

A Bear’s Journey: The Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Sally Louise Hill
Treasured Travels Publishing, $35.00, ISBN 9780473268152

It is sobering to find that a book you remember from its first appearance has just been re-issued as a “New Zealand Classic”. My sister had a copy of The Adventures of Hutu and Kawa (1955), and I remember thinking then that the Pohutukawa Babies looked just like the kewpie doll prizes at the Winter Show. Not that flower fairies were unfamiliar to us in the 1950s. My sisters’ English comics were full of frolicking flower-sylphs, while our libraries had similar British and Australian picture books from earlier in the century. The most famous creator of these was May Gibbs, whose Gumnut Babies were a trans-Tasman success. In fact, Gibbs’s Wattle Babies, with their fluffy yellow bonnets, seem to have inspired Avis Acres to adapt the pohutukawa blossom.

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