'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 18 March 2011

Review: Dame Nellie Melba

A new spate of faction books – fiction based on fact – have popped up on the children’s literature shelves of late, and I must say, as someone very fond of history, I’m loving it. Children also respond incredibly well to historical fiction, and Australia certainly has a plethora of fascinating characters that make for interesting reading.

Dame Nellie Melba is no exception. The first book in the Aussie Heroes series published by New Frontier, this junior faction book follows the life story of a young song bird who grew up in the ‘burbs of Melbourne, spent her young adult life in the Queensland outback, yet ended up a doyenne on the European Operatic stage… eventually becoming arguably Australia’s greatest vocal export.

Dame Nellie Melba nonetheless loved and adored her home country. She performed extensive tours of our country despite her career finding its centre in Europe, and eventually bought a house in Melbourne – Coombe Cottage – to spend her final years in.

Feisty, talented and hard-working, Nellie’s life was one of extreme highs and lows, of great triumph and tender scandal (an affair with the Duc D’Orleans took me by surprise). This brief biography of her life is well researched and documented by author Marin, who has written a concise but clear account that will bring you to tears (or in my case, quiet sobbing) at the end.

Coloured illustrations by Rae Dale dot the text and make this a book librarian’s and teacher’s dream, and a fascinating and entertaining read for anyone keen to learn more about this extraordinary woman’s life.

Title: Aussie Heroes: Dame Nellie Melba
Author: Gabiann Marin
Illustrator: Rae Dale
Publisher: New Frontier, $14.95
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 9781921042645
Format: Paperback
For ages: 7 - 12
Type: Historical Fiction

Next in the Aussie Heroes series – Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop