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

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Review: Eat My Dust!

Eat My Dust! is the fabulous true story of Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell, two Australian women who made history. Almost 100 years ago these friends set a land speed record.

In 1928, it wasn't the done thing for women to drive a car, but Jean and Kathleen weren't going to let something like that stand in their way. They were well prepared and determined, despite the naysayers. 

Setting out from Fremantle, they drove to Adelaide then Melbourne and finally Sydney, all without road maps. It was between Fremantle and Adelaide they broke the record set a few months earlier.

Travelling in their Lancia Lambda, and accompanied by their dog Barney, Jean and Kathleen drove almost constantly through the vast, dusty outback. They stopped for fuel, but took turns sleeping in the back so they weren't delayed.

At night they had just the stars and car headlamps to light their way. When tyres needed repairing, they did it themselves. And when they were behind schedule, they took a short cut, and ended up surprising the officials waiting to record their time of arrival in Adelaide.

Jean and Kathleen smashed the land speed record by five hours. They also 'created some of Australia's earliest outback road maps for the Shell Company'. And in 1932 they participated in Europe's Monte Carlo Rally. 

Neridah McMullin and Lucia Masciullo have re-created Jean and Kathleen's life in a wonderfully atmospheric way, giving us a window to a small part of it. 

Jean and Kathleen were pioneers who broke records and stereotypes. Their achievements particularly resonated with me as a reminder of my great-great-aunt who was a motorcycle courier and also rode in rallies in the 1930s.

This is a story of perseverance and resilience, and an important yet relatively unknown part of Australian history. Read Eat My Dust! with your kids, it's a story that deserves to be celebrated. 

Title: Eat My Dust!
Author: Neridah McMullin
Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo
Publisher: Walker Books Australia, $26.99
Publication Date: August 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760654191
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book