Tracey Hawkins (author)
Jacqui Grantford (illustrator)
New Frontier Press, Australia: 2011 ISBN: 9781921042768
Genres: biography, factual, history, non-fiction
Nancy and her family live in Port Arthur. It is 1920 and a large naval vessel is docked in the harbour near their cottage. When Nancy is bitten by a poisonous snake, she needs immediate attention and the ship's doctor is closer than the nearest town.
There is a problem: the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions of the time don't allow women on board ship as they're considered unlucky. Thankfully the compassionate captain has a solution – Nancy, at the age of six, will join the navy, the first female Australian sailor.
This delightful retelling of the true story of Nancy Bentley will charm younger and older readers alike, giving a glimpse of Australia's past. Of particular interest and significance is the fact that the Navy vessel involved was the HMAS Sydney whose later history was so tragic. Notes at the back of the picture book support the narrative; included is a scan of Nancy's Certificate of Service. Apparently the crew of HMAS Sydney rather adopted Nancy and kept in touch with her for many years.
Tracy Hawkins has kept her narrative very simple, allowing the truth of the story to involve and interest readers, merely providing a bit of dialogue for interest. Jacqui Grantford's watercolour illustrations provide snapshots into another era.
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