The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project

Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster |  320 pages | ISBN 9781476729091 | June 2014 – See more

RRP $15.99

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There are two common responses when one announces that one is a librarian (or teacher-librarian).

  1. A) “How lovely to have a job where you can read all day!” (Ummm, not likely!)
  2. B) “So you get to read all the new/best sellers first?” (Flashback to 2004 and managing a popular public library in Sydney when Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was repeatedly topping every best seller list in the world. We had at least a dozen copies and a reservation list so long we bought another twenty copies. I ended up reading it about two years later after borrowing it from a friend’s bookshelf!)

So typically I am possibly one of the last people in the known universe to read The Rosie Project after hearing so much high praise about it and the phenomenal reaction from all readers. I can only say it was worth the wait!

On Tuesday afternoon, I had my annual appointment with my accountant to do my tax return. My calculations, based on leaving the library at 3.20 pm, meant that I would arrive exactly three minutes before my designated time slot at 4.00 pm. Recalling my 2013 experience of having to wait fifteen minutes due to my very gregarious accountant continuing to talk to his previous client (I strongly suspect he has an ADHD type disorder but would need to conduct more conclusive research to verify this), I needed something to read in case I was once again forced to endure his extremely non-ergonomic waiting area couch. I picked up The Rosie Project from one of our display stands, it having just been returned that day. I arrived at Terry’s office at precisely 3.58 and to my great surprise he was ready for our appointment. We spent exactly 46 seconds discussing my tax return, and the other 44 minutes 14 seconds animatedly talking about books, depression, Mental Health Week, his (my previous) Rotary Club, his wife (also a teacher), his recent trip to Bathurst and whether anti-depressants could be counted as a tax deduction. After my arrival at my home at 5.00 pm and sundry household chores according to my regular schedule, dinner and watching my usual episode of crime fiction featuring my favourite book character, a singularly well-organised and precise Belgian, I went to bed intending to read until my scheduled 10 pm curfew. After 13 chapters of complete and utter engrossment, I forced myself to adhere to the scheduled sleeping requirement albeit reluctantly (mentally wondering if I could fake insomnia).

Last night, Wednesday, I completed my usual after school routine of driving across town to my mother’s nursing home, where I spent an hour in bemusement at other residents (high-care dementia unit) and helping Mum with her dinner, followed by the one hour drive home to arrive at 6.21 pm (a variation on the usual 6.25 pm, that allowed me an extra four minutes of poodle-cuddle time as the traffic had been noticeably without drama). At 8.31, the poodle and I retired, my sole intention to finish the book. At the appointed ‘lights out’ time of 10.00 pm I still had a few chapters to finish. I recalculated my sleeping time, and adjusted my alarm to wake a half an hour later, judging that I could cut minutes from shower/dressing/make up/breakfast time to compensate.

Finished the book, laughed, sighed and went to sleep with complete satisfaction.

For those who have read the book, you will possibly be able to contextualise the previous two paragraphs. For those who have not yet read the book, let me elucidate and introduce you to Don Tillman.

Don is a highly regarded, extremely intelligent, well paid, good looking and physically fit Associate Professor in genetic research. He can count his friends on one hand and has never had a relationship with a woman. In fact, any attempts have never gone beyond one date. Because Don is ‘different’.

Simsion’s artful description of Don filling in for his Lothario colleague, Gene, to deliver a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome to parents and affected students at a local school, all the while completely oblivious that he is, in fact, the epitome of all the recognised adaptive behaviours is priceless.

Don wants to have a wife and recognising his shortfall in social success in interactions with the opposite sex, creates The Wife Project – a highly scientific process to filter out unsuitable candidates and provide the exact match. His friend, Gene, is meant to be assisting him in his search but is really using the applications to further his own quest to conquer the world in a geographically sexual sense. In a moment of  mischief, Gene, engineers a meeting between Don and Rosie, who is the complete antithesis of Don’s ‘ideal wife’.

The ensuing romantic romp is chaotic, charming and utterly engaging. Don Tillman is one of the most likeable, endearing characters I have ‘read’ in recent times – in fact, I think I may be a little in love with him myself!

Graeme Simsion wrote the manuscript with the intention of it becoming a movie after publication. I didn’t know that during my reading of it but thought  it is exactly the kind of humorous, insightful, complicated and ultimately satisfying love story that translates perfectly to the screen and the rom-com genre.

I’m with Rosie on this score. I am sure that when I finally get to see The Rosie Project realised as a film, I will no doubt need the box of tissues next to me.

One of my most enjoyable reads of this year –  don’t just put it on your list, put it on your shelf!

Q&A with Colin Thompson

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Since he started writing and illustrating children’s books in 1990, Colin Thompson has had more than 65 books published. He has received several awards, including an Aurealis Award for the novel How to Live Forever, CBCA Picture Book of the Year for The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley and CBCA Honour Book and the Family Therapists’ Award for The Big Little Book Of Happy Sadness. He has been shortlisted for many other awards, including the Astrid Lindgren Award – the most prestigious children’s literature prize in the world. Colin lives in Bellingen, Australia. His books with Random House Australia include How to Live Forever, numerous picture books, The Floods series, The Dragons series, The Big Little Book Of Happy SadnessFree To A Good Home and Barry.

Author Lives In: Bellingen, NSW, Australia

thompson, colin

Courtesy: Random House Australia

Colin, welcome to Just So Stories!

Reading the biographical details on your website, your life has been a mix of various locations, jobs and interests and your writing career did not kick off until relatively recently. Can you tell us about any interest in books and writing when you were a child/teenager/young adult whether favourites or what you inspired you and then, perhaps you could share why you started to write professionally?

When I was a child there were only fourteen children’s book in print and they were jolly super-wizard japes and pretty boring apart from one or two such as the Wind in The Willows which is probably still my favourite children’s book. There no books with no nasty common working class people in – unless they were burglars and the only books with coloured pictures were annuals of the comics I read, like the Beano.

Nothing inspired me to be a writer. I had no desire to be one and the thought never once  entered my head until I was 49 and went to see some publishers in London to see if I could get some work illustrating children’s books. I couldn’t, but one publisher told me to go away and write a story. I said I didn’t know how to – I was rubbish at English at school – but she kept pestering me until I got so fed up with her that I sat down and wrote Ethel The Chicken. (You can read this in my collection of stories Wild Stories which is a collection of three books of short stories re-published here by Random House)

So I started writing because a publisher told me to.

Out of your many published works, I have many personal favourites (though a couple of picture books particularly hold my regard – The Short & Incredibly Happy Life of Riley and The Last Circus for example). I am in awe of your versatility in being able to both write and illustrate though sometimes you collaborate with another illustrator as in those two examples. What makes you decide whether you will illustrate your own work?  Also, do you confer with an illustrator if not yourself about your ‘vision’ of the illustrations?

Actually I did not collaborate with Amy Lissiat on Riley. I am actually an 85 year old French lady and the fact that Amy Lissiat is an anagram of ‘it’s my alias’ is pure coincidence. If someone else illustrates one of my book. I do NOT confer at all and any author who does with an illustrator should not be allowed to. If they (or me) think they know how the book should look, then they should do the pictures. Otherwise leave the illustrator alone. It’s none of your business. I’m not sure I will be doing any more collaborations. Might do, but at the moment I prefer to illustrate my own stuff.

‘Dust’ was a book that I found both important and poignant. In my libraries I have shared it with dozens of children and it always makes such a profound impact. What was it’s genesis?

I got the idea after seeing news on TV about the famine in Niger which their government said wasn’t happening. No doubt it wasn’t for the government. So I decided to try and raise some money. Initially I approached Medicine Sans Frontiers, but they were ridiculous and impossible to deal with so I went to Save the Children who welcomed DUST with open arms. I’m not sure how much we’ve raised, but I think it’s at least $500,000. Save the Children took my wife and I to Cambodia to see the work they were doing there and that gave me the idea for the follow up book The Bicycle. I though the least I could do after such a stark book as DUST was to produce an upbeat book!

Not only are you talented in the picture book genre, but your novels for older children such as The Floods and The Dragons are wildly popular with both boys and girls. Can you tell us how these two series came about?

My publisher at Random house took me out to lunch and suggested I might like to write a series. I hadn’t thought of it until then and decided that I was so TOTALLY bored with all the witch and wizard books, many of which are really bad, that the genre needed sending up. If you look at the Harry Potter books, I think you’ll find that there isn’t one joke in the entire series. I don’t know this for certain because I got really bored after the first two. I know they’re good, but I think they are all at least 50% longer than they should be. I just don’t have the patience – which is why I’ve never read Lord of the Rings either.

Writing picture books is a really good way of discarding the fluff which so much writing is full of. Some of my picture books do have longer stories than average, but it does teach you to only say what you need to, not show off with all the clever words you know. Stephen King says – ‘the adverb is not your friend’ If you plan to be a writer, go and get that advice burnt into your skin.

So having taken, to put it bluntly, the piss out of witches and wizards with, The Floods I then decided to do the same to King Arthur and dragons with my Dragonsseries.

See below for my new series.

And then of course, there are the poetry books (is there no end to this man’s talent?!) – what inspired the poetry books which are enormous fun especially as read-alouds?

I wish you would stop using the word ‘inspired’. Stuff just comes into my head and I write it down – or draw it. The inspiration word is a lot of people’s excuse for not doing stuff. ‘I need to be inspired’, they say which is crap. What they need is to do is to just get on with it and if they keep trying and can’t think of anything, then they shouldn’t be doing it anyway. They should just go and get a job – teaching writing or art is one job you can do if you can’t actually do it.

Writing poetry is strange. There are times when whatever word you think of, another one that rhymes comes into your head instantly. In my 3 poetry books there is only one poem that doesn’t rhyme. I think each book was written in about six long sessions over a few weeks and then things stopped rhyming. I have been toying with the idea of another book of poems.

Most of us know that you had some issues early in your life with depression. As we have just recognised Mental Health Week and thankfully are working towards breaking down the barriers and ignorance which surrounds this daunting problem, perhaps you could share some thoughts on the topic?

I think if the world in 2014 tells itself that everyone is more understanding and tolerant of mental illness, it’s lying to itself. Society has hardly become any more accepting that it was when I had depression fifty years ago. The general belief of most people is that sufferers could and should ‘snap out of it’. This of course is pathetic and implies that people with depression (I’m saying depression because that’s what sent me into three mental hospitals in my early 20’s) or other mental illnesses are putting it on deliberately and have some control over the situation, which of course is ridiculous. Anyone who has had bad depression will tell you, it’s not something you would ever choose to have. I think it was good of the ABC to host Mental Health Week and some of the programmes were really good. There was also some patronising rubbish too. I survived my depression and one genuine suicide attempt, but I can’t really say exactly how I got over it. Now, apparently, I have Aspergers instead which I must have got later because it wasn’t invented when I was born. When I was a child it was simply called being naughty.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING if you have a mental illness is to admit that you have a problem and then seek help. NEVER keep it to yourself.

Whilst not wishing to be impolite, you are nudging what some might describe as senior citizen status, yet I don’t detect any intention of slowing down or ‘retiring’- what is happening at present? What projects are you working on and what do you still feel needs to be written?

I want to say very rude words here. Stop trying to being polite. It is not impolite to tell someone they are old. It happens to everyone and it is not actually an insult.  I am not ‘nudging’ anything. Next week I will be 72. I am old, but I am as busy as I have ever been. Luckily I have not been cursed with maturity and Aspergers means you can do lots more in a day than other people.

Right now I am working on -

  • Illustrating a picture book called STANLEY, which I have just finished writing. It will be published next September. By the way, the third and final FEARLESSbook called Fearless Sons and Daughter will be published next year too (I think it’s March)
  • Editing and illustrating the first book of my new series which is called – Watch This Space. It will be published next May.
  • Writing the second book in the Watch This Space series – don’t know how many there will be
  • Drawing quite a few new pictures for more jigsaw puzzles for a company called Ravensburger. I’m currently drawing 2 that are 1000 piece puzzles and finishing one that is a LOT bigger. I’m hoping that when I’ve done a few more new pictures that we can put them all in a picture book too.
  • Working on a kind of novel/picture/chapter autobiographyish ( yes it is a proper word- Im an author so I know about this sort of thing) sort of book calledFITTING IN which is sort of about problems and other stuff like depression/Apergers/being different/shy/scared etc.etc. – not sure when this will be finished.
  • Writing an adult novel called The Mirrorball of The Gods.
  • Writing a book of adult short stories.
  • Writing another picture book.
  • Trying to find time to make samples of three ranges of models I’ve come up with. They will be for all ages between 5 and Pre-dementia.
  • Other stuff.

I have heard you speak to groups of students and inspiring them, but what advice would you give potential adult authors?

1 – Well then, get on with it.

2 – If you can marry someone rich, that’s a good idea. I am married for the third time and have never managed that.

Do you have particular authors and/or genres that you enjoy most? What are you reading right now?

I have two favourite books – neither are fiction.

1 – Botanica’s Trees and Shrubs – I read this all the time.

2 – At The Tomb of the Inflatable Pig – by John Gimlette. It’s about Paraquay and is like a cross between Monty Python and Saddam Hussein. I’ve read it about six times now. I also love two of his other booksThe Theatre of Fish and Wild Coast

My favourite author is Alan Bennett.

Finally, what would you like your epitaph to be?

Bloody hell, he must have been ancient. I thought he died years ago.

This, of course, will not be a viable epitaph for at least another 25 years. I’ve got a lot to do.

Please note the use of the word ‘died’ here. That’s what people do. They do not ‘pass over,’ they die.

Colin Thompson, I thank you so much for your valuable time and your generous sharing.

Bthank-you

Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth

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Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth

9780857984739

Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780857984739

Published: 01/08/2014

Imprint: Woolshed Press

Extent: 288 pages

RRP $18.99

In the past few months I have been slightly disappointed in the Australian YA fiction which I have encountered, as compared to the international ditto.

This book knocked that opinion for six. Darren Groth has written a sensitive, funny and insightful novel that explores themes and issues common to many families in dilemmas of family relationships, confusion and identity.  Justine and Perry are twins. Justine is bright, capable, caring and logical. Perry is also bright, capable, caring and logical but with one major difference.

“Perry has a brain condition that can cause him to feel anxious or upset in different places and circumstances. He has trouble with people – mixing with them and communicating with them – and it sometimes results in inappropriate behaviours. I appreciate your understanding and patience.”

This is almost Justine’s mantra. When she and Perry were around four, their mother ‘took off’ and their father subsequently raised the twins with loving support and insightful belief. Sadly, shortly before their 18th birthdays, Dan (Dad) dies due to an unpleasant and lingering cancer condition. Since the time their mother left, Justine and Dan had cared for Perry – Justine, as his twin, with enormous empathy even at the age of four. However, unbeknownst to either Dan or Perry, Justine has begun some contact with her mother and following their father’s demise, she decides it is time for Perry to also be introduced to his mother (who now wants to be part of their lives). This is especially important as the pair has made a decision, based on their father’s thinking that Perry will move into sheltered independent (semi-independent) care and Justine can pursue her own life.  Before this event, Justine makes the decision for the two siblings to go to America and not only pursue Perry’s quirky interests (seismology, mythical beasts) but also to meet their mother.

This is a road trip with a difference.  There are numerous complications, scares and surprises along the way but eventually a resolution that is neither cloying nor predictable.

My opinion is that this is a marvellous novel for exploring what constitutes the ‘caring, competent, logical’ persona, family relationships, mother/father and siblings and ‘letting go’ of preconceived ideas, values and beliefs.

I would highly recommend this novel for students, both boys and girls, from around 14 up. There is nothing untoward that would justify a ‘senior’ label but does require some maturity of thought to grasp the concepts.

Find Teacher Notes here.

Romeo & Juliet – Retold by Jim Pipe, Illustrated by Penko Gelev

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Romeo & Juliet – Retold by Jim Pipe, Illustrated by Penko Gelev

Graffex series

Book House, UK, 2014

via INT Books (Tom Danby)

48 pp. RRP $15.95

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If, as I have just experienced, you have students who struggle with Shakespeare, this series could prove a valuable complement to your collection. My Year 10 boys have just done a unit on Romeo & Juliet and while we steered clear of reading the play in full, instead selecting passages, watching the film, live performance from Grin & Tonic and so on, many still had some problems.

I took this slim graphic volume in for them to look at, and several commented that they now understood a particular part or made notes using the book.

Firstly, the graphic format breaks the play down in a storyboard type format which is easy to follow. Secondly, while the ‘speech’ is still Shakespearean, there are footnotes to ‘translate’ into modern day language. This running glossary is probably the most beneficial aspect of this version. Additionally there are several pages at the back with information about Shakespeare, his work and his times plus an index. A useful page as a frontispiece, pictures the characters with their names and relationship to Romeo and Juliet.

The only disconcerting note for me is the illustrator’s tendency to have the characters look like muddy-faced trolls – Juliet is far from attractive as she scowls with her troll-face to swallow her potion. In fact, they all look very unpleasant – whether they are the good guys or not!

That being said I think this would be very handy for those students who need a simplified version and visual connection to help them grasp the main ideas and themes of Shakespeare. Others in this series included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice.  There are also other classic stories published in the same format – see the publisher’s page here,

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe – Romain Puértolas

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The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe – Romain Puértolas

Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780857983503

Published: 01/07/2014

Imprint: Vintage Australia

Extent: 320 pages

RRP $32.99

As you may guess by the rather unusual title, this is a rather difficult book to define except to say that it is wildly hilarious, totally improbable and a fabulous read.  If you mashed up some Monty Python, some Borat and some Mel Brooks and turned them all into some kind of Marx Brothers escapade, you’d be getting close.

I’ve been reading this for the past week while supervising exams and so on at the end of the term and found it perfect for shorter periods of time – reading a chapter or two in a sitting.

To give you some idea of the crazy plot, we start with a very bogus Indian fakir arriving in Paris with a counterfeit €100 note and a borrowed suit because he wants to buy a new bed of nails – which he had seen in an Ikea catalogue back in his home village. His plan is to be in Paris for 24 hours only – just long enough to buy the bed and go home. After misguidedly hoaxing a Gypsy cab driver with his fake money, he ends up in Ikea fascinated by its offerings – which for him include a smart Parisienne woman who buys him lunch and indicates she would also love dessert – of a kind. He declines this overture –regretfully and not without some deliberation but is intent on his mission. Having no actual  money he certainly can’t afford a hotel so decides to stay the night in the bedding department at Ikea. Cue ensuing chaos as the Gypsy cab driver alerts Ikea staff to the possibility of a bogus Indian in their store and Asjatashatru, the fakir, leaping into a wardrobe to evade night staff and the game is on.

The story unravels with the wily Indian being transported – one way or another all over Europe at a pace that takes his (and the reader’s) breath away. Along the way meeting friends and foes, having uncanny good fortune and some narrow escapes, the Indian finds himself examining his life, his misdeeds, his growing feelings of love for his Parisienne Marie and the ‘universal desire to seek a better life’.

A rollicking romp of laughs all the way. Suitable for senior students and adults.

Nightmares – Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

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Nightmares – Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

ISBN: 9780552571920

Published: 09/09/2014

Imprint: Corgi Childrens

Extent: 368 pages

RRP $16.99


Charlie Laird has several problems.

1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

Charlie is eleven years old and not very happy. In fact, he’s exhausted and constantly terrified by the awful nightmares he has night after night.  Ever since his mum died and his dad remarried, Charlie’s life has become worse by the day – or so it seems to him. Even at school, there seems to be no escape because despite the fact that his long-time friends still stick by him, they are all being menaced by the horrendously scary new principal.

Gradually, Charlie discovers that it is not just his dreams that are being taken over and in fact, the whole of Cedar Creek is in danger of becoming lost to the real world forever.

Facing fears is never easy but Charlie does this with the help of not only his Cedar Creek friends but also some newly acquired Netherworld friends when he crosses through the portal between waking and dreaming for real.

Spooky enough to be exciting, but not in any sense graphic or nasty, this is a super book for children to respond to about their own fears. The humour throughout moderates the suspense and the reader is able to explore  themes such as friendships, support and solidarity, grief/loss, being judgemental and accepting differences.

Aside from the obvious aspect of frightening nightmares, it is also a wonderful opportunity to examine the ‘fear’ of a new step-parent and changes in the family dynamic. Charlie could not have been more wrong about his ‘step-monster’ Charlotte and discovers for himself that sometimes it is easy to misinterpret the actions and appearances of others.

Multi-talented Jason Segel says he also had nightmares as a child and this was one of his motivations for writing this novel for middle-school kids – the first in a proposed trilogy.

Highly recommended for readers of about 9 years and up. Visit the Nightmares website here for activities, videos and more information.

Regal Beagle – Vijay Khurana & illustrated by Simon Greiner

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Regal Beagle – Vijay Khurana & illustrated by Simon Greiner

ISBN: 9780857983701

Published: 01/10/2014

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 128 pages

RRP $14.99

What a delight it was to spend a few moments reading this delightful nonsensical piece of whimsy from Vijay Khurana at the end of a long tiring day!  This is a perfect little book for newly independent readers venturing into chapter books with a lot of fun, easily identifiable ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ plus a very insightful example of not judging on appearances alone.

When a very much loved Queen of a small kingdom dies leaving no heir, the country is temporarily at a loss as to their next move. Searching through long forgotten archives, the protocol is discovered. Should the ruling monarch die without an heir, the throne goes to the king or queen’s best friend. In this case, the Queen’s best friend is Lucy – her beagle.

Despite the protestations of the conniving and clearly nefarious Lord Runcible, who has his own designs on the crown, Lucy is duly crowned and begins her reign with impressive success, despite being a canine.  However, Runcible contrives a dastardly plan to remove Lucy and seize power for himself. As one might imagine, Lucy is rescued by a most unlikely saviour – but that would be a spoiler if I told you, so you will just need to read it for yourself.

Very much in the vein of the Dick King-Smith books (such a long-time favourite of mine and, I know, of many children) this really is a refreshing and enjoyable read.  I think it would make an excellent read-aloud for classes of smaller humans as well as a terrific take-home book for those who are spreading their reading wings.

As I’ve said to many students over the years – often you need a ‘lolly’ book. A break from the intense or well-meaning texts with layers of meaning- not that there is anything wrong with those at all. This week, this was my ‘ lolly’ book – sweet and satisfying.

Highly recommended for readers 7 -9 particularly, both boys and girls.

Coming soon – teacher notes will be available at the Random House link here.

Deadly D & Justice Jones: Rising Star (Book 2) – David Hartley and Scott Prince

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Deadly D & Justice Jones: Rising Star – David Hartley and Scott Prince

Magabala Books

September 2014

ISBN: 9781922142504

Paperback 192 p.

Middle Primary

RRP $12.99

Deadly D and his friend Justice Jones are back again in another deadly adventure – this time not only with the footy flavour but an alien angle as well. David Hartley and Scott Prince have teamed up once more to provide Middle to Upper primary students, particularly boys but also all NRL lovers, another terrifically engaging read.

Deadly D has a curse, secret to everyone except his mum and his best bro, Justice. When he gets angry he turns into a huge hulking man with great physical strength and skills. That’s how he came to be playing for the Broncos alongside his heroes like Jonathan Thurston and Ben Barba.  Ordinarily just eleven year old Dylan, recently relocated to Brisbane with his mum, going to school and mucking around with his mate,  on weekends Dylan becomes Deadly D, a fast-rising top league player attracting much attention from fans and media. One particularly unsavoury newspaper reporter however seems to know more than others, and is continually harassing Deadly. Fortunately, he meets with a very satisfying end after some threatening moments.

Meanwhile, Deadly and Justice are less than enthused when their rather eccentric and footy mad teacher ,Mr B, sets a group task of making a billy cart and puts the two boys with new girl Taylor Niela. Both boys find her pretty but standoff-ish and snooty, though remarkably knowledgeable about physics and the scientific way to design the fastest billy cart ever.

They temporarily forget their chagrin over this however, and the whole class is ecstatic when they win the school attendance prize – a day trip to Dreamworld with the Queensland State of Origin team. The day starts off with a greeting at the Indigenous centre, followed by some huge fun in the waterpark – with the two authors making the most of opportunities to poke some gentle fun at some of the Origin heroes. Who would have thought that big Sam Thaiday would be afraid of heights and almost chicken out of going down the Wedgie waterslide, whimpering for his mum?  Sam’s resulting comical wedgie of his canary yellow speedos will give many readers a good chuckle.

In the midst of all the excitement, Deadly and Justice see stuck-up Taylor sneaking into the dingo enclosure to disappear underground mysteriously. When they follow her, they find out why she seems so different, how it connects with Deadly and his curse and how Deadly can help others in a really significant way, albeit at a cost to himself.

As with the first book, this is an easy to read and fun book which will engage many reluctant readers from around 9 years upwards. Hartley and Prince are onto a winning formula here and hopefully, we can expect to see more from them.