Today it is my pleasure to share with you the inspiring story of Kamilaroi man Len Waters Boundless and Born to Fly, the third in the Australia Remembers Series published by Big Sky Publishing. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
I previously shared information about the first in the Australia Remembers Series, Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials written by Allison Paterson in this post.
The second, Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force was also written by Allison Paterson.
About Catherine Bauer
Catherine Bauer is the author of the 2019 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Dreaming Soldiers, a moving story about the friendship of two boys from different cultures. Her picture book, Colourful Memories, was inspired by her father’s journey from post-World War II Germany to Australia in the 1950s. She has also written three children’s plays, all with Aboriginal themes.
Catherine has worked as a news and political journalist and features writer for various newspapers and publications and has advised both government and the corporate sector on media management and public relations. She is now working with the State Theatre Company, South Australia.
Her love of writing and storytelling began as an eight-year-old, when Catherine wrote and illustrated her first book about a mermaid. She aims for her stories to spark all or one of the following three reactions in readers: ‘that’s me’; ‘I wish that was me’ or ‘I’m glad that’s not me’.
Catherine lives in Adelaide, South Australia, with her three sones. She loves art, history, fitness, cats, chocolate and reading.
About Australia Remembers
Len Waters may have been born behind the gates of an Aboriginal reserve, but his big imagination and even bigger dreams took him soaring well beyond the reach of those who tried to confine him. Kamilaroi man Len Waters dreamed of taking to the skies. It was an unlikely dream at the time, but during WWII he beat the odds to become Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.
Rules and restrictions controlled much of Len’s early life. Born in the 1920s, Len had a basic education and life was lacking in luxury. But Len had a sharp mind. He had a boundless work ethic. Len also had big dreams and a family who supported them. Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly takes readers on Len Waters’ soaring journey from making his home-made model aeroplanes at his kitchen table, to flying RAAF fighter jets in the south west Pacific in World War II.
Len was a history maker, a young man who didn’t let society’s prejudice, his culture or skin colour stand in his way. But when WWII was over, Len sadly discovered that his service and courage did not result in equality. Len once said that, out of his RAAF uniform, he simply ‘returned to being a black fellow’. Today, decades later, Len’s determination and achievements are recognised and honoured across Australia.
Ages: 6 – 12 years
Subject: RAAF, History
What I like about Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly
When I read the blurb of this book, I was immediately captivated by the story and wanted to know more. There are so many stories about this part of history that are still untold, and I felt this one about Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot was one I needed to know. I think much of the history of First Nations Australians has been omitted from our history books or misrepresented, and I am pleased to see the surge of interest in finding the truth and telling their stories.
I really enjoy the way Catherine has told Len’s story and the way the book has been designed to include a wealth of other information to explain the times and events to make an understanding of his story more accessible and more meaningful.
While the story of Len’s life is told from chapter to chapter, each part of his journey is supported by ‘Fast Facts’, historical information, ‘Did you know?’ and questions to think about that help readers understand Len’s situation and consider its application to their own lives. The book is copiously illustrated with photographs, illustrations and maps that provide even more context for Len’s story.
As well as Len’s personal history, the book includes information about the history of flight, pilots, aircraft, the Second World War and the treatment of First Nations Australians. There are many opportunities for readers’ interest to be sparked and to encourage them to delve with more depth into a range of topics.
At the back of the book, there are some suggested activities, a glossary of terms and a bibliography. As with most non-fiction books, there is also a contents page and an index.
Teachers notes are also available from the publisher.
I am inspired by Len’s quote included at the back of the book:
While you may need to pre-read the book and choose sections for sharing with your younger students, there is much in it to interest and inspire your older children, and many opportunities for rich discussion, both at school and at home. I am happy to recommend this book for readers of any age.
Connect with Catherine Bauer on social media
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