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Book review: Deadly D and Justice Jones, Book 1: Making the Team, by Scott Prince and Dave Hartley

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013

Deadly DI’m probably the only person in Australia who’s never heard of the Broncos, much less its star player Scott Prince, but I reckon that makes me the best person in Australia to review his new book, written for children.  Who could be less biased, eh?  Even though I was very proud that my son played representative rugby as a teenager, I know nothing about the game (or indeed any other kind of football).  So, for me, Deadly D and Justice Jones, Book 1: Making the Team has to work as a story.  For my students (who mostly follow soccer) this book will need to have a compelling plot, credible characters that they can relate to, and an engaging style.

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that it does.  Written specifically to engage active sports-mad boys, Deadly D and Justice Jones in written as a straightforward chronological first-person narrative, related by 11-year-old Dylan Conlan, who has to move from Mt Isa to Brisbane because his mother has a new job.  On his very first day at his new school he encounters the School Bully, Jared Knutz and his thuglike father, terrorising the principal because he’s had the temerity to discipline Jared for throwing rocks at a teacher’s car.  By afternoon, he’s seen him bullying a smaller Kiwi boy, Justice jones.  By page 33 it dawns on the reader, reluctant or otherwise, that young Dylan is no ordinary boy: when angry he explodes out of his clothes like the Incredible Hulk – and he promptly chucks Jared off the jetty and into the water, leaving his gang to scarper as fast as they can.

In the best tradition of superheroes, Dylan has to keep this transformation a secret.  His mother has taught him anger management techniques, but Jared provokes him again when they’re on a school excursion to visit a Broncos’ training day.  And when Dylan explodes onto the ground, the Broncos are impressed, and invite him to join the team! Of course there is a slight problem that Dylan has to get mad in order to morph into Deadly D, but Justice manages to come up with some hilarious ways of achieving it.  So Dylan is able to make amends for losing a game for his team back in Mt Isa, and not only that,  Jared gets his comeuppance too, (though I suspect that he will make a comeback in Book 2).

While not heavy-handed about it, the book also contrasts the Waitangi treaty that is commemorated every year in New Zealand, with the unresolved reconciliation process here in Australia.  (If constitutional recognition is something that you care about too, visit Recognise and find out more.)

A Kalkadoon man from Mt Isa, Scott Prince co-authored Deadly D and Justice Jones – Making the Team with primary school deputy principal Dave Hartley of the Barunggam people from the Darling Downs/Chinchilla region.  They wrote it over four years and then submitted it for a State Library of Queensland’s 2013  black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship.  They didn’t win, but the judges were so impressed that they created the kuril dhagun prize as a one-off, and the deal included publication of the story by indigenous publishing house, Magabala Books.

The book is 122 pages long and includes half-a-dozen B&W drawings by Dave Hartley.  It’s suitable for independent readers, has brief (and funny) ‘deadly notes (a.k.a. a glossary) at the back, author bios, and some information about the black&write! project which aims to foster indigenous writing.

There are teacher notes at Magabala Books.


Direct from Magabala Books.

2 Responses to “Book review: Deadly D and Justice Jones, Book 1: Making the Team, by Scott Prince and Dave Hartley”

  1. kathleen cameron said

    This book is wonderful – it needs to be re-worded to appeal to AFL southerners for a version to encourage reluctant readers.

    • Lisa Hill said

      Hi Kathleen, thanks for taking the time to comment:)
      I take your point, but rather than reword it, because part of its appeal is the superstar hero, and anyway lots of kids play rugby here in Victoria (my own son played representative rugby as a teenager), it would be good to have a complementary version by an indigenous AFL star.
      I’ve got it in my ‘schoolbag’ to take back to school on Monday and I know just the boy to try it out on to see if it works for a footy-mad southerner!

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