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  • Published: 31 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143770367
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

Sky High

Jean Batten's Incredible Flying Adventures

Meet Jean Batten, the brave, trail-blazing and glamorous aviator, who strove to set new records in death-defying solo flights across the world.

Brave, trail-blazing and glamorous, this stunning picture book tells the true story of how Jean Batten became an international superstar for her solo flights across the world.
The little plane has been flying across the sea for eight hours.
Huge black clouds surround it. Rain pours in. Wind slams. The aircraft is tossed around like a leaf.
The pilot stares into the darkness. How much fuel is left? Is she flying in the right direction? How long till she reaches land?

In 1934, Jean Batten set a world record for the fastest flight from England to Australia. Just two years later, she made the first-ever solo flight from England to New Zealand. Jean's fearless determination and flying skills helped her survive storms and crashes, as she crossed great oceans and lonely deserts in her tiny plane.
This gripping true story with its dazzling illustrations is the third from the award-winning creators of the picture books First to the Top and Speed King.

NZ Listener 50 Best Books for Kids

  • Published: 31 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143770367
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

About the authors

David Hill

David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 50 titles over four decades. His middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian's Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; Finding (May 2018), Highly Commended in the New Zealand Heritage Book Awards 2018; and Coastwatcher (2021).

Below (2022) won the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2023. Described as 'a white-knuckle survival story set in a catastrophic tunnel collapse', the judges commended the way 'it trusts its young readers to handle big environmental ideas and come to their own conclusions'.

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children's Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards. Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests was published in 2018 and Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen's Awesome Fossil Discoveries was published in 2019.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children's literature in New Zealand.

In November 2021 David was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - Fiction in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand Literature.

He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

Phoebe Morris

Phoebe Morris has been drawing for herself since 1996, and for other people since 2013. From a small studio in Wellington, she has collaborated with acclaimed author David Hill on award-winning picture book biographies of famous New Zealanders for Penguin Random House New Zealand: Sir Edmund Hillary (First to the Top, 2015), Burt Munro (Speed King, 2016), Jean Batten (Sky High, 2017), Sir Peter Blake (Hero of the Sea, 2018), Joan Wiffen (Dinosaur Hunter, 2019) and Jacinda Ardern (Taking the Lead, 2020).

Phoebe is also the illustrator of the Frankie Potts junior fiction series by Juliet Jacka.

In 2021 Phoebe illustrated The Adventures of Mittens by Silvio Bruinsma, following the adventures of Wellington's most famous exploring ginger cat.

Unanimously praised for the quality of the illustrations, First to the Top was named a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. In a review for the New Zealand Listener, Ann Packer wrote 'Wellingtonian Phoebe Morris makes a stunning debut as an illustrator ... from the arresting cover, through cameos of his younger life, to haunting, other-worldly mountainscapes, Morris's style gives the old story a cool new edge.'

In 2018 Phoebe was shortlisted for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Though much of her work focuses on narrative storytelling, Phoebe also creates illustrations for apps, websites, editorials, animation and interior design. Find out more about her work at phoebemorriscreative.com

Praise for Sky High

Another excellent biography from the duo who introduced kids to Ed Hillary and Burt Munro. This story of the life of our pioneer female aviator is a reminder that not all great achievers find happiness.

Ann Packer, NZ Listener

This is a great book that celebrates courage, resilience and empowerment. Dramatic illustrations capture perfectly the epic scale of her achievements.

Helen Spiers, Otago Daily Times

The first page of Sky High: Jean Batten’s Incredible Flying Adventures grabs you. Whether or not you’ve heard of Jean Batten or know anything about her, Phoebe Morris’ massive, terrifying clouds threatening to envelop the tiny plane and David Hill’s present tense, short sentences make this picture book a thriller from the start. . . . Sky High will enable another generation to feel Jean’s indomitable spirit of exploration and, like me, to be inspired to find out more.

Louise Ward, The Sapling

Hill brings to life the jawdropping feats of a can-do girl from Rotorua, an aviation pioneer who set a string of records, broke hearts, and smashed planes all over the world. She twice flew from Britain to Australia but, on the second occasion, crossed the yawning 2100km gap to New Zealand, not knowing at the time whether her plane was capable of making it. ...Great read.

Peter Shand, Rotorua Daily Post

His stories are wonderful, full of action and are always teaching the reader about some aspect of our amazing country and our people.

Gisborne Herald

Sensitively told by David Hill and dramatically illustrated by Phoebe Morris. Her first double page spread of a small plane tossing in the turbulent skies with the sight of New Zealand in the distance sets the standard. . . . this is another winner.

Bob Docherty, Bob's Book Blog

Can I say I just love this book? It is the most fantastic read-aloud introduction to biographies for Grade 2. They were on the edge of their seats, each time she failed and tried again. Every time I closed the book and said "and then she gave up" they all shouted NO SHE DIDN'T. Great illustrations, told at just the right level and highlighting someone succeeding against the odds. What more can a teacher-librarian ask for?

Nadine, Good Reads

[A] delightfully accessible book about the famous New Zealand female pilot that combines a gripping story, lovely illustrations and impressively thorough research.

Marianne Tremaine, NZ Heritage

Phoebe Morris had everything in its place in the air, with great variation in views as she helped to tell the story of Jean Batten. Her small characters were some of my favourites, with plenty of expression and attitude shown by Batten through the illustrations.

Sarah Forster, The Sapling

Awards & recognition

Storylines Notable Book Award

Awarded  •  2018  •  A Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Shortlisted  •  2018  •  Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Shortlisted  •  2018  •  Russell Clark Award for Illustration