Anna Liza and the Happy Practice
Barrington Stoke, 2016
108pp., pbk., RRP $A13.99
Anna Liza Madigan’s mum is a psychiatrist – sye-kye-a-trist. She talks to people who are very lonely or very upset until they are better. Anna Liza thinks this is so important that even though her mum tells her only grown-ups can be psychiatrists, she sets up her own office in her mum’s waiting room and wearing her stethoscope and white coat from her “Nurse Nancy on Duty” set, she does the rounds of the waiting room every afternoon after school. She gets those waiting water or a magazine, sometimes even cheering them up with her version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. But one day she meets Edward who is seven point five years old, doesn’t like sauce on his burgers and is the saddest child she has ever seen. Even her 17 best knock-knock jokes can’t make him raise a smile. Determined to get to the root of the problem, Anna Liza digs deeper and discovers that Edward’s sadness is because is dad his sad because his mum has left them.
So Nancy devises a plan to make Edward’s dad’s life go somewhere and make him happy again… but will it be successful? Racing through like a sequence from a cartoon, complete with illustrations that leave much to the imagination, Anna Liza’s plan can only end badly. Or does it?
This is another title from the Little Gems series that is deliberately formatted to cater for readers with dyslexia (see my review of Out for the Count) but regardless, it is just a rollicking good story written by the author of the Artemis Fowl series who knows what it takes to entertain young readers. Despite its physical length, it is not a long read and is full of humour and fun with a delightful twist at the end that invites the reader to continue the story in their head. And, of course, the whole thing invites a Knock-Knock Jokes Fest.
Funny, different, entertaining – I know Miss 9 will love this one.