Zinzi and the Boondogle
Twelve-year-old Zinzi's mother is dying. She will be left to raise her two younger brothers and sister. Although her mother advises Zinzi that her heart will guide her, Zinzi is so caught up in her anxiety that she is emotionally paralysed.
After her mother’s death, Zinzi’s immediate concern is how to pay the rent for their tiny home, and she undertakes to bead tourist badges for the landlady’s curio shop. Zinzi beads late into the night and, in her exhaustion, muddles the designs for the baboon, dolphin and eagle icons that appear on the badges. Her frustrated tears fall onto the badge and a live mutant “Boondogle” is created. When he offers to conjure up the remaining badges, the frantic Zinzi agrees. And so she is trapped into a complex relationship with the Boondogle.
Over the next weeks, Zinzi relies more and more on the Boondogle’s magic to secure her family. All the while, the Boondogle’s power feeds on Zinzi’s mounting terror. At each encounter, the Boondogle grows in strength and his threat to Zinzi looms larger. Then, the Boondogle kidnaps Zinzi’s baby sister Leila, hoping this will consign Zinzi to a state of indefinite fear - thus securing his life on earth.
Devastated, Zinzi and her brothers are determined to rescue Leila and embark on an extraordinary journey across Cape Town. The Boondogle lures them with false leads, keeping them from Leila’s hiding place. Late in the day, in a chilling turn of events, the children find a bead effigy of Leila amongst the dolls for sale in the curio shop. The only way to save Leila is to enter the Boondogle’s dangerous, seductive Bead World.
Once in the Bead World, Zinzi’s brothers soon succumb to temptation and fall under its spell. When Zinzi finds Leila, she is horrified to find that her sister too has been entranced. The Boondogle appears just as the sun is setting, and triumphantly declares that they will remain there forever. In the nick of time, Zinzi remembers the animals’ gifts, which combine to spirit the children back to the Real World.
However, they are not yet safe. Back in the Real World, the Boondogle begins to undo the magic that created the badges – threatening to leave the children destitute once again. Zinzi finally realises that she holds the key to the Boondogle’s power, and using the inner strength gained throughout her journey, confronts her fear. In the final climactic scene, pitting her resolve and love for her family against the Boondogle’s might, Zinzi destroys the Boondogle. The family is together again; and no longer afraid, Zinzi’s love for life is rekindled.
© 2008 Meg Rickards and Jane Coombe