Review: Digger J Jones by Richard J Frankland

Digger J JonesI’ve enjoyed Richard J Frankland’s work as a playwright for many years – I was delighted to see his first book on the stand.

Eleven year old Digger J Jones is a terrific character – a feisty little scamp with a lot of personality. His diary entries make up the story – short, snappy observations from an alert, smart and funny kid.

The book, set in 1967 at the time of the Vietnam War and the Australian referendum for Australian Aborigines to finally be counted in the national census, looks at these historical events through a child’s eye. Digger’s straightforward assessment of how they impact on his life cut to the chase.

The loss of his brother Paul in Vietnam and his determination to ‘fight that discrimination’ and be counted as a citizen are explored alongside his day to day adventures – making enemies and friends, trying to live up to his newfound love for the nun Ally, discovering that poetry isn’t just for girls, and getting up to shenanigans with his best friend.

Digger J Jones is bursting with humour and heart. It might be a good book for any child – particularly boys – who have trouble getting into reading.

Buy Digger J Jones from Boomerang Books

Review: f2m – The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy

f2m The Boy Within

Ford Street Publishing is certainly not tying itself down to just one genre for its YA readers. There’s been Foz Meadows’ “Solace and Grief” (vampires), George Ivanoff’s “Gamer’s Quest” (fantasy/SF/gaming) and now “f2m – The Boy Within” – a transgender coming of age story.

f2m is the first-person story of Finn – born Skye – who decides, on his 18th birthday, to finally take steps to becoming the male he knows he is, inside the female form he was born with. It’s not going to be easy, though. What will his family think? And what about the punk band for which he plays lead guitar, the Chronic Cramps? Will his oldest friends see this as a betrayal of their feminist principles from their female friend Skye, or will they learn to embrace Finn in their formerly ‘all girl’ band?

There’s a lot to learn in this book: about being transgendered, the choices that can be made, and the challenges transgendered people and their families can be faced with. It would be a great book for anyone going through those changes, or their family and friends, because it offers so much insight. It’s a great, easy read too – I gobbled it up in less than two days!

However, it would be a dull book if it was only some treatise in educating the public about transgender issues. Instead, it’s is about being true to who you really are, even when that’s really hard (and even if you’re not entirely sure who that is yet). It’s also about friendship, family secrets, unconditional love, courage and compassion. Those are themes that any person can relate to regardless of age, gender, sexuality or preferred brand of music.

While the book is not autobiographical, co-author Hazel Edwards has known Ryan Kennedy for over 20 years – since Ryan was an 11 year old girl.

Find out more about f2m, including how to buy it at Hazel Edwards’ website.

EDIT: The  f2m: The Boy Within is also available at, or as a Kindle book at f2m (NA). f2m will be launched in New Zealand on 21st July 2010 and will also be getting an e-release there.

Always delighted to see a good review!

The Literate Kitty has given The Opposite of Life a wonderful review: Werewolves in London? Try bloodsuckers Down Under.  It starts with a discussion of the four Noble Truths of Bhuddism, works through a fantastic precis of Lissa’s background and ends with “Life may be hard and cold… but it still has the ability to surprise and delight, as Lissa finally realizes. It’s up to her (and each of us) to make that be enough.” It’s a really neat review. 🙂

GaryView: Classic Pop-Up Tales – Dracula by Bram Stoker

Gary: What on earth possessed you to buy this book?

Lissa: It’s for your collection. Look! POP-UP CEMETARY!! (pops the cemetary up in his face)

Gary: Yes, I can see that.

Lissa: Come on, it’s hilarious.

Gary: It’s kind of weird.

Lissa: I know! Look at this! POP-UP GIANT DOG! (pops the giant dog up in his face)

Gary: Actually, that was scarier in the novel.

Lissa: Well, the novel is several hundred pages long, and this is about a dozen pages of images and text and POP-UP DRACULA! (pops Dracula up in his face)

Gary: Would you stop doing that?!

Lissa: (contrite) Sorry.

Gary:  It’s okay. I just don’t want to tear it or anything.

Lissa: By reacting with that extreme fright you’ve been displaying?

Gary: Yes.

Lissa: (sighs)

Gary: Seriously, who thought of this? It’s completely unsuitable for kids.

Lissa: I don’t think it’s meant for kids.

Gary: When I was a kid, pop-up books were for kids.

Lissa: I think they’ve become a kind of nostalgia thing for grown ups, these days.

Gary: I had a pop-up book about trains. It was great. Until it…. um… broke.

Lissa: My brother Paul would have loved a Dracula pop-up book. Actually, Belinda would have loved it too. Look at this… (considers, and very carefully opens and moves the book) you can repeatedly stake the Count in the last chapter, if you really want to.

Gary: I like the little pop-up bits on the half pages you fold out from the sides. The ship’s log has all these pages, and there’s pop-up ocean swell. And… (takes the book and stares closely)… I wonder how they folded that bit in…

Lissa: You just want to know how it works.

Gary: I sort of know how it works.

Lissa: You took apart that train book when you were a kid to see how it they did the pop-up stuff, didn’t you?

Gary: Um. Yeah.

Lissa: How much stuff did you destroy as a kid trying to figure out how it worked?

Gary: … a fair bit.

Lissa: How on earth did you resist pulling apart your computer when you got it?

Gary: I didnt, for the first one. After I replaced it I left it alone. I can’t afford to keep doing that sort of thing.

Lissa: I wish I could have seen that.

Gary: I’ve got something you can see.

Lissa: What’s that?

Gary: POP-UP VAMPIRE! (bares his fangs and waggles his hands in her face, pop-up Dracula style)

Lissa: *shrieks*

Gary: Ooh. Shit. Sorry.

Lissa: Jesus Gary, you … you…. (starts to laugh, then folds up giggling)

Gary: No, really, sorry. I didn’t meant to scare you.

Lissa: No, it’s cool. I deserved that. (folds up laughing again) Pop-up vampire!!!! Hey, hey look at this! POP-UP LIBRARIAN! (jumps up in his face) YOU HAVE AN OVERDUE BOOK!!!

Gary: (blinks) You’re definitely scarier than pop-up Dracula.

Lissa: That’s my mysterious librarian powers working their mojo.

Gary: Thank you for the book, Lissa.

Lissa: You are very welcome, Gary.


*For newcomers, the GaryView is a review of books/films/TV/entertainment carried out as a conversation between Lissa Wilson (librarian) and Gary Hooper (vampire) , characters from my book ‘The Opposite of Life’.

Words are like oxygen