Digger J. Jones, by Richard J. Frankland

Dear Diary
Me pop wants me to keep a diary ‘cause he wasn’t allowed to read and write on the mission and he spoke to my teacher and my teacher thinks it’s a good idea. So now I’m writing a diary. As if I don’t get enough reading and writing to do from school.

Digger Jones’ diary is about the day to day happenings in his life – piffing yonnies at the meatworks, battling the school bully, and keeping track of the footy scores. But at the same time, much bigger events are happening, and Digger finds himself writing about those as well. First his big brother, Paul, away fighting in Vietnam, is killed. Then, as the family struggles to overcome their grief, they become involved in the campaign to make Aborigines full citizens. Digger’s dad is white, and a citizen, but Digger and his mum are aborigines, and in 1967 are not considered citizens. As the year progresses Digger learns a lot about himself and his beliefs.

Digger J. Jones is a wonderful blend of humorous first person narrative and much deeper examination of issues, as well as being a historical novel set in the year that a referendum gave Aborigines full rights as citizens. Digger and his family are actively involved in the campaign, and also very personally touched by the Vietnam war. At the same time, Digger also deals with childhood issues of bullying and friendship.

This is a very accessible offering, both highly readable and enlightening. Excellent.

Digger J. Jones, by Richard J. Frankland
Scholastic, 2007