Meet Nancy Bird Walton – Grace Atwood/Harry Slaghekke



ISBN: 9780857983879

Published: 01/10/2014

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 32 pages

What a pleasure it has been for me to review several books now from the Meet.. series, the latest being this wonderful illustrated biography of Nancy Bird Walton, one of my childhood idols as the epitome of what (Australian!) girls can achieve.

From the age of 13 Nancy was determined to fly, despite the resistance of her father. At age 17 she began flying lessons at Mascot aerodrome with Charles Kingsford Smith as her instructor.  Nancy was not just interested in the actual piloting of a plane, she set about spending as much time as possible at the flying school, learning everything about how planes work, how to maintain them and how to keep them flying at their best. She finally achieved her pilots’ licence, after clocking up 100 hours of solo flying and passing her exam, becoming the youngest female pilot in the British Empire to do so.

Not long after she bought her first plane – Vincere (Latin for ‘to conquer’) and in this Gipsy Moth she proceeded with a friend to travel all around New South Wales offering plane rides at country shows and field days. Nancy went on to achieve many firsts including working commercially with Far West Children’s Health Scheme, recruiting and training a women’s auxiliary air force during WWII, recognised with awards of the British Empire and Australia and more.

Today she remains a true inspiration for young girls and women everywhere.

This series has done so much to bring the exciting stories of so many of our high-achieving Australian men and women to young readers in a very accessible and engaging way.  I can certainly vouch for the interest students in my library have shown in the titles we acquired during the past year or so.

Teaching notes are available from Random House here.

Highly recommended for primary students around Year 4 upwards.




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