Speed King by David Hill is the story of Burt Munro who broke world records with his Indian motorbike on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA.
Made a household name in the biopic movie The World’s Fastest Indian, Burt Munro is the quintessential Kiwi tinkerer. His number 8 wire mentality won hearts and minds with the racing fraternity in the States when he arrived in 1956. Some might say he broke new ground for quirky Kiwis to become loved in the US over the next 50 years!
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This beautifully illustrated biography of Burt Munro is a real treasure. It’s quite wordy for a children’s picture book, but written very well. The descriptive story-telling is broken up with quick, short sentences, which keeps the pace going throughout. It also makes it an ideal book for children aged from around 3, all the way up to 12.
The illustrations really capture the era. Mostly the pictures are full page, or full page spread. This makes it a really visually appealing book to read to children. My favourite is the picture of Burt in his shed tinkering away late at night, while the stars above him make mechanic-inspired constellations. Just as quirky as the story itself really.
The story itself is packed full of interesting facts about Burt’s life, how he fell in love with motorbikes and speed, and how he went about working on his bike. It’s so well written that, even though you know how it ends, you’ll find yourself telling the story faster and faster as it gets to the climax.
The back page even has a timeline of Burt’s life from 1899, all the way through to 1978. I thought the story might have been too wordy for my 3 year old. But she loved it and made me read right through the timeline too!
This story is now a classic New Zealand tale, and this children’s book really does the story justice. Your children will love the illustrations and be enthralled about how this unassuming guy from Invercargill made it all the way to the USA to take on the best in the world.
It’s a story about dreaming big, following your passion, getting back on the horse and ultimately finding success. The perfect story for Kiwi kids.