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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Possum Magic Coins Out! Cultural Identity.

Ah, Mem Fox and Julie Vivas, you've done magic again!! I've got two dollars Possum Magic coins out from Woolworth and Royal Australian Mint. See the second image in this post! Who can imagine picture book characters and its famous scenes have become coins? Four $1 coins and three colour-printed $2 coins retell Mem’s story illustrated by Julie. Their work has become our cultural icon that represents an Australian identity in a modern children's picture book history. Before the publication of "Possum Magic," Australia had been importing picture books from a northern hemisphere such as Europe and the States. They did not fit to Australian subjects, weathers, settings and English. There was a hidden and serious want among Australians for "Australian" picture books. It was risen from nationalism in parallel. Timely, in 1983, "Possum Magic" satisfied the desperate need and became a million seller in Australia and the world! By that book, other countries could/can know what Australia is in a socio-cultural aspect.  
So, "Possum Magic" has many Australian native animals, food, custom and social conventions. The story goes like this. Two possums live in an Australian bush. Grandma Poss uses "bush magic" to make Hush invisible. But when Hush wants to be re-visible, the two possums must go around Australia to find the helpful and culturally iconic food that will make Hush visible again. I've loved that book since I got. Btw, American blog friends may know Mem well, as she has visited the States lots and as popular as in Australia!  

"Possum Magic" has a famous behind a scene story, nine times rejections. Despite many times turning down, how did Mem and Julie successfully get it published? Changing setting was the key, which has led to triumph. Mem's say shows that the tenth publisher, Omnibus required more Australian animals and a national setting. Original protagonists, mice were changed into native possums and their gourmet world trip was swapped with a cycling tour across Australia to enjoy Australian ordinary and familiar food. I admire Mem and Julie's clever ideas, guts and perseverance to respond the difficult request, a cultural identity. I also know well that it's very painful to start over illustration, because giving up the original is equal to "Killing my baby!" and illustrators cry out -- can you imagine our pain? Julie did it! Mem and Julie's hard work has turned out the extraordinary hit and become legend. Today, "Possum Magic" is making a myth. Many picture books follow "Possum Magic." The characters come up here, there, everywhere in an Australian daily life -- children literature, educational tools, a musical play at a theatre, stuffed toys, etc and finally, "coins," our currency! In my view, it's become a prototype of Australian cultural identity! We proudly assert that "Possum Magic" is an Australian picture book. 
Friends might have questions on the Possum Magic Coins and how to get them. The information source is Woolworth. When I chatted with staff at Royal Australian Mint over the phone, she said, "The coins are very popular." Wow...! Julie, ear burning? ( NOTE : The Mint produces Australia's circulating coinage, coins for other countries, medals, medallions, tokens and seals for private clients, both national and international.) 
Sweet Julie sent me a friend request, when I started FB. Very happy. Btw, she commented the image above, "Thank you, Sadami your laughing Queen Elizabeth is a break through." Thank you very much, Julie. 

Julie left one more comment! 
"Thank you, Sadami, I do admire your skills, Mem's workshops sound inspiring. Lots to do for book week. Take care." 
I replied. 
    Sadami Konchi Thank you, sweet Julie!! I DO and have been admiring YOU, as u know. You've taught me lot and helped me. I hope we'll bump on streets. You're busy for Book Week. I'm preparig for a book launch. Take care. Enjoy life!!
    Show More ReactionsReply21 August at 21:06Edited
Friends, don't easily give up a dream by rejections. "Possum Magic" got through baptism of fire for nine times. Very encouraging and inspirational. Have a wonderful and creative week. 
Happy Painting and Happy Dreaming! 



  1. How wonderful to have coins made with the characters people have created. I won't mention this to William (our Lurcher sighthound), he'll expect to be on the opposite side from her majesty, lol. ( ;)

    1. Thank you, Ann! You're so sweet. Yes, pass my best wishes and hugs to William. Best wishes, Sadami

  2. The sketches are wonderful and the coins (esp. the colorful ones) are great! How amazing that the government would recognize a children's book on their coins!!! And, yes, it shows that some ideas need to change as you move along, and that you never give up if you want to succeed!!

  3. Sweet Rhonda, thank you! It's really a great achievement. In my life, I've seen the coloured coins for the first time. Yes, indeed, their saga and Julie have encouraged me. I will keep up. Best wishes, Sadami

  4. Wow, 9 rejections and still they persevered - and then were greatly successful! A very encouraging story you shared here. I have been so discouraged by rejections that I hesitate to call myself and artist. Shout-out to the Australian government to deem children's literature such an important part of the culture to place them on coins! Wonderful! As always , I LOVE your illustrations!

    1. Yes, Minnemie, you have a wonderful talent and indeed, demonstrate beautiful art work! Re being an artist or not, If you do not mind, please read my blog post, "Monday, January 16, 2012 Are You/Am I an Artist?--How to Find Answer For Your Own." Never give up, Minnemie. Hahaha, I'm proud that Australian Gov has appreciated picture books and value them in a proper manner. Let's enjoy painting. Best wishes, Sadami