Review Blog

Apr 06 2017

Amazing Australians in their flying machines by Prue and Kelly Mason

cover image

Ill. by Tom Jellett. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781922244635
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Flight. Adventure. Invention. This engrossing hard cover book details the role of ten early Australian aviators who through their efforts helped change the face of Australia's aviation industry, bringing in a chance for people to travel to places that could only be reached by sea. The first to suggest some form of air travel was Dr William Bland who arrived in New South Wales in 1814 as a convict, transported because he killed his opponent during a duel. When in Australia he began to experiment with hot air balloons, which preceded Lawrence Hargreave's experiments with box kits by forty years. Then George Taylor lifted a plane into the air in 1909.
Each of the group has a double page devoted to them, one page giving a slice of their timeline while the other encapsulates what they did for aviation. Jellett's quirky illustrations fill each page, giving a cartoon image of their face, as well as illustrating their chosen form of aviation, and illustrating something for which they are known. The illustrations and text will satisfy the most inquisitive of readers while tickling their funny bones at the same time. The people covered in this way include Ross and Charles Kingsford Smith, Bert Hinkler, Nancy Bird and John Flynn, as well as people wholly unknown to me, George Taylor, Norman Brearley and Richard Williams, amongst others. It is an interesting read, giving amazing facts about the people as their contribution to Australian aviation is briefly shown amongst a range of fascinating illustrations, while the pages include a 'did you know?' and a timeline. The whole is served with a sturdy index, a double page about Australian aviation today and a section about the authors and their buying an antique plane. This book will have appeal to those interested in aviation, adventurous Australians and those interested in how our industry developed.
Fran Knight

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