Jennifer Bradley (text), Rob Cowan (illus.), Girl with Wings, Jo Jo Publishing, 9 March 2015, 256pp., $18.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9 780992 590185
Jessica Mackay, who lives in Narromine, New South Wales, in 1920, wants to be a pilot. Place-wise this is a great town to build up the skills she needs; there is an airport and an aero club. Time wise it’s not so good. There are very few female pilots about and it is not a career that is considered usual for a girl. However, Jessica is determined to achieve her goal even when she realises that pilots need to be good at maths and sewing (both of which she loathes), astronomy, geography and cleaning engine parts. It is also involves keeping her mouth shut when her grandfather, who has very firm ideas about what a young lady does, is about.
Girl with Wings is a really interesting book for two reasons, the first being Jennifer Bradley blends her story with actual history and knowledge of the area. She grew up in Narromine, has seen the photographs of the aero club records and had the honour of being air sick in a Tiger Moth plane. Bradley also depicts interaction between her character and the actual pilots who were about at the time.
The second reason is: Jessica’s training is explained so well. It didn’t make me want to be a pilot (I loathe engine grease) but the analysis of each skill that Jessica needs and how she gains it is fascinating.
Girl with Wings is suitable for children aged 10-14
reviewed by Katy Gerner