My book review of 'Billie Swift Takes Flight' by Iszi Lawrence

by Iszi Lawrence
Recommended age: 9+
Billie Swift Takes Flight
by Iszi Lawrence

A wonderfully positive, cheery, inspiring story of Billie, a young girl living in Britain in 1942.

Her family has been impacted by the war and Billie longs to be a pilot but she's just 12 years old and no one takes her seriously so she reverts to a hen for companionship and conversation.

This is a fabulous book with an inviting cover and quirky illustrations at each chapter heading.

Billie is exploring with Susan, her pet chicken, one day when she sees a plane crash into a field. She's worried about what has happened to the pilot and goes to the nearby airfield to find out more.

This is where the ATA are being trained - a group of pilots who have to transport planes from the factories to the front lines. Some of the pilots are men who are too old, or too injured for the air force, but many are women and Billie wants to join them. Despite her age and inexperience, it seems Billie can help, and the adventures begin.

This is an action-packed, uplifting story with some fascinating information and important messages delicately introduced to the story - details about flying planes and the attitudes towards gender and race discrimination included.

Billie is a wonderfully engaging, compelling central character. She is resourceful and enterprising, and regularly conflicted. Adults want to stop her from doing anything enjoyable or useful so she has to manipulate events and the truth to get her way and she worries that she is in essence 'a bad person'.

I loved this book, not least for the illustrations which are perfectly suited to the derring-do of the period and the efforts of Billie. Readers aged 9-12 are the target audience for this book, but I'd recommend it to anyone who would like a fun, positive, informative, animated and uplifting read. 

Date of this review: November 2022
Book publication date: 2nd September 2022