Saturday 4 August 2018

Dr Boogoloo and the Girl who lost her Laughter

Dr Boogoloo and the Girl who lost her Laughter by Lisa Nicol (Random House Australia) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978014 3782599

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Blue is a girl whose name keeps changing depending on the moods and interests of her largely absent mother. Blue's father is absent, too, and only occasionally available via Skype. Blue is ‘blue’ as she’s often alone; this is no doubt due to her lonely life and is responsible for her losing her laughter – a condition that’s persisted for 712 days. 

Mr Boogaloo, on the other hand, whose clinic is called Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures, is a jovial chap whose aim in life is to help others. His patients include Charlie whose head is ‘filled with mean, nasty thoughts’ and Dan Mutter who has the delicate problem of always forgetting to wear underpants to school. Boogaloo’s usual remedy is to play music – such as calypso tune played on bagpipes or music from a flumpet, flugelhorn and fujara. Any problem can be solved with music rather than pills according to Boogaloo!

Blue’s case is exceptional, so, after her mother takes her to the esteemed doctor hoping for a cure, Boogladoo’s indispensable wife Bessie who has ‘a fairy-floss cloud of mandarin-orange hair’ and whose skirts house a small family of pygmy possums, is Blue’s first port of call. She takes the small girl on her magical bicycle which looks as if an entire orchestra of instruments have collapsed on top, to the Snorkel Porkel Crumpety Worpel Laughter Clinic where Blue’s therapy begins. Because Blue’s condition is ultra-serious, a cure must be worked at. Hence there’s much effort expended by many laughter performers and much more.

This is a book which is filled with colourful and often invented language (as well as musical instruments). Every moment offers imaginative actions as well as characters which are unusual, awe-inspiring (such as the enormous blues-singing whale, Leonard) and downright amusing. Any child from 8 to 11 years, who likes to be entertained and have their imagination stretched, is sure to enjoy this charming, often humorous and fast-paced, quirky tale.

Rights have been sold to a musical based on this middle-grade novel by writer/filmmaker, Lisa Nichol which should be interesting as there are lots of weird musical instruments and personalities featured.

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