Review Blog

Sep 09 2007

Digger J Jones by Richard J Frankland

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Louis Braille Audio, Melbourne, 2007 (2 CD's, 2 hours)
(Age 10+) The listener is immediately immersed in the story of Digger, as he writes his diary telling of the days' happenings with his extended family in Melbourne in the early part of 1967, a significant year for the Aboriginal population of Australia, the referendum rightly giving them a legal place in society. Digger's brother, Paul has died in Vietnam; he fights his school nemesis, Darcy, kisses Sue behind the bike shed and talks to Tom, a young man about to join up, at meetings at the Aborigines Advancement League.

An amazingly astute and hilarious story, Digger is eleven, old enough to ask questions without embarrassment or subterfuge, young enough for people to answer honestly. And he asks some rippers, why don't we have the vote, why are black and white people arguing, why is that black boy kissing that white girl, and on and on. Each one underlining for the listener the discrimination that was a normal part of life 4 decades ago, and so begging the question about how much has changed.

The author is also the reader on this excellent pack of 2 CD's, totaling two hours of listening hilarity, and he reads with authenticity, his snarly rough voice, deeply ingrained with Aboriginal history. The listener will feel akin to Digger's search for what he believes and values in life, be aware of the political forces behind the story, brought to a street level with Digger, the nuns and supporters striding along in the demonstrations, holding their banner before them. For those students looking at Australia's history, those who want to know more about Aboriginal history and specifically the granting of citizenship, and those who want to listen to a good story well told, then this is for them.
Fran Knight

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