From the outstanding ‘Meet’ series of books comes Nancy Bird Walton for the 6+ age group. We meet her visually through Harry Slaghekke’s stunning pictures of the mesmerised Nancy learning about planes and their workings. He uses earthy colours for the background which represent the ‘vast open spaces of this flat country’ and shaded blues for ‘the cloudless blue sky, stretching to the horizon.’
Charles Kingsford Smith began instructing Nancy when she was eighteen. After 100 hours of flying solo, she became the first Australian woman with a commercial pilot’s licence. Supported strongly by her family, they financed her first plane, the Gypsy Moth Vincere, meaning to conquer.
At a time when navigation tools were minimal, Nancy conquered the skies by using road maps, compass, watch and landmarks to find her way. When she had tallied up 22,000 miles, she began operating the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme, flying nurses from Bourke to remote areas of NSW.
This inspiring story is beautifully presented by Grace Atwood’s simple prose. It brings to life a fascinating portrait of a great Australian and her contribution to our history. I was totally immersed with all my senses engaged as I accompanied Nancy through the skies, free as a bird; at one with our surroundings.
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Title: Meet Nancy Bird Walton
Author: Grace Atwood
Publisher: Random House
Illustrator: Harry Slaghekke
Publication Date: October 2014 $24.99 RRP
Type: Children’s Australian History