The TV is really loud. I can’t take my eyes off it. North Queensland are winning by four points but The Bulldogs are about to score. Mum is saying something to me but I can’t hear her. The commentator is shouting, ‘Bulldogs have the ball with a minute to go!’
‘Barba passes to Ennis, Ennis to Morris, Morris finds space out wide, he steps one, steps another, he’s in the open …’ CLICK. Mum turns off the TV.
‘Aye, why’d you do that? Mum! Bulldogs were about to score!’ I say springing off the couch.
‘We’re leaving, son,’ Mum says.
‘No way! Are you gammin’?’ Morris scoring for the Bulldogs is now a distant memory.
Eleven-year-old Dylan is not happy about moving to Brisbane from his home in Mt Isa, but it’s happening anyway. In Mt Isa, he could keep the secret of what happens when he gets angry. But he settles quickly at his new school in Brisbane, despite a run-in with the local bully Jared. He makes friends with Justice Jones and begins to relax. Things are looking good when the whole class sets out on an excursion to watch the Brisbane Broncos rugby team train. Then Justice attracts the attention of Jared and his cronies and Dylan gets angry. When Dylan gets angry, he transforms into a powerful, fully-grown man, which terrifies him. But this time is different. This time, as he tries to hide, he discovers that the strength and power that scare him are exactly the skills that the Broncos are looking for. With the help (sometimes) of his friend, he is soon training with the NFL club.
Deadly D and Justice Jones: Making the Team is co-written by a former rugby star and a teacher and is the first of a planned series. It introduces Dylan (Deadly D) an indigenous Australian and Justice, with Islander heritage. They are at the end of primary school, sports mad and on the brink of adolescence. It’s almost possible to smell the hormone surge as Dylan transforms to Deadly D. Prince and Hartley celebrate the powerful and positive role sport can have in the lives of young adolescents in this rugby-meets-magic tale. Readers will empathise with Dylan as he learns about this new body, and chuckle at the enthusiastic excesses of his mate Justice. Sports fans will revel in the inside look at life in a NFL rugby team. Chapters are short, include illustrations from Dave Hartley and chapter headings. ‘Deadly D and Justice Jones’ is ideal for upper-primary sports-mad, can’t-sit-still boys and older reluctant readers.
Deadly D and Justice Jones: Making the Team, Scott Prince & Dave Hartley Magabala Books 2013 ISBN: 9781922142184
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller