Flying through clouds by Michelle Morgan
Michelle Morgan, 2017. ISBN 9780995386501
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Depression (1930). Australian history. Aviation. Reprising the familiar territory of her first novel, Racing the moon, Morgan weaves a tale about Joe, a thirteen year old boy in a religiously mixed family in the slum area of Glebe, working as a runner for his father, an illegal bookie. Seeing the arrival of Charles Kingsford Smith after flying across the Pacific in the Southern Cross in 1928, Joe's sights are set on becoming an aviator. All of his thoughts are dictated by how much money he can earn to take flying lessons, apart from a few thoughts devoted to the head master's daughter, Amy.
The background of the novel is wonderfully realised, with readers able to sink into the surrounds of Sydney in the 1930's with crime and unemployment, casual abuse, poor housing and illness ever present. Morgan's sense of the times is well depicted, and she includes some events which are well known, Kingsford Smith's flight across the pacific, the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bodyline Series, for example, positioning the story in its time slot.
Joe's efforts to save money see him getting into trouble with his father as well as the school for wagging while he does his friend's running for another bookie. But saving is all he focusses on, amassing enough money for one lesson, until his money is stolen. But he is able to go and stay with a friend near Canberra whose family has a Tiger Moth and the two fly off to Queensland, where another adventure befalls them. A neat resolution occurs with Joe meeting his hero, and his family accepting their son's dream.
This book will appeal to all those dreamers in upper primary looking for an adventure story set in an historical time frame that is in part recognisable.