Six-year-old Nellie crouched up in the tree branches, peering down at her father as he approached the dam. She knew she would be in trouble if he found her sitting in the old gum tree, sopping wet, so she decided the best thing was to stay very quiet until he passed.
Suddenly, her father looked up into the tree, straight at Nellie. She shrank back against the smooth bark, but she knew it was too late, she’d been spotted. At that moment, she heard the humming, a favourite song of hers that her mother used to sing when she was a baby. After a moment of listening, Nellie realised the humming sounds were coming from her!
When Nellie was a child, in the 1860s, singing in public was not considered a ladylike thing to do. But Nellie was determined, from an early age, that singing would be her life. Not long after she finished school, her mother and young sister died. Nellie, her father and a sister moved to Queensland where strong-minded Nellie married an Englishman. Nellie tried to put aside the notion of singing but found it impossible. She sang in Melbourne and achieved some success. But before long she found Melbourne too small for her ambitions and sailed for Europe. There she achieved the success she’d dreamed off and returned to Australia a star.
It’s often difficult to comprehend that famous people were once just like all the rest of us, doing normal things, dreaming big dreams. Dame Nellie Melba, international singing star, was once a small child hiding in a tree to avoid getting into trouble. With a good voice and a great deal of determination, she showed that it is possible to make dreams come true. Dame Nellie Melbasets out to tell Nellie’s story, from her origins, through sadness and wrong-turnings to her world-wide triumphs. It makes Nellie real, and her story meaningful and accessible to children today. Aussie Heroes Dame Nellie Melba is the first in a new ‘Aussie Heroes’ series from New Frontier Publishing. Recommended for upper primary readers.
Dame Nellie Melba, Gabiann Marin, Rae Dale
New Frontier Publishing 2010