Imagine a wonderfully rude, children's version of "It's a Wonderful Life." At the beginning of the tale we have a good man, a caring man, heading for his job as a cookie-taster but also heading for a terrible fate (he's about to step in something smelly). Is this an accident? Who's responsible? (The Gigglers, elfen creatures whose pranks punish wayward adults.) What did he do to deserve this? (He yelled at his children unfairly, but actually this was a bit of a misunderstanding.) Can the impending mess be avoided? Working backward, Roddy Doyle spins the hilarious tale of Mr. Mack, his wife Billy Jean, his three children Robbie, Jimmy, and Kayla, their dog Rover and, of course, the irrepressible, sometimes hasty, but well-meaning Gigglers.
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What, you might well ask, is the Giggler Treatment? Better yet, what precisely is a Giggler? You won't find out until chapter 6 of Roddy Doyle's The Giggler Treatment, but for those of you who can't wait, here's the answer: Gigglers are "baby-sized and furry. Their fur changes color as they move." Their main occupation in life is to look after children and to punish adults who are mean or unfair to them. And the Treatment? Four words: "Poo on the shoe."
The Gigglers have always been there. Since the first dog did its first poo. Since the first caveman grunted at his first cavechild. He stomped out of the cave, straight onto a huge lump of prehistoric poo.In his first children's book, Roddy Doyle, prize-winning author of such adult fare as Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, The Barrytown Trilogy, and A Star Called Henry, gives free literary rein to his inner child. The result may surprise his older readers, but is guaranteed to please the Captain Underpants set with its frequent good-humored references to poo, rudies, bums, and other body parts and functions. Doyle bases his tale on a dreadful misunderstanding: Mr. Mack, a biscuit tester in a biscuit factory sends his sons to their rooms without supper for breaking a window. This piece of unfairness naturally warrants the Treatment, and so the Gigglers immediately rush next door to collect a walloping great lump of poo from a neighboring Irish wolfhound. Unfortunately, they aren't present when Mr. Mack repents. When the children later find out their father is headed into deep doo-doo, it becomes a race against time to save him from poo on the shoe.
Doyle takes this slightest of plots and piles on plenty of whimsy, from a talking dog to a race across Dublin via the Nile River and the Eiffel Tower. Chapter titles have names like "Chapter Something," "Another Chapter," and "The Chapter After the Last One"; there are frequent digressions into topics such as mountain climbing and the love life of Irish wolfhounds; the illustrations are fun; and there's an amusing glossary at the end that translates some of the Britishisms ("Plaster--Band Aid. Very useful if you are bleeding to death"). This good-natured romp through a comedic territory beloved by children (and more than a few grownups) will surely win the author whole new legions of fans. Indeed, it's highly unlikely that Mr. Doyle will ever have to worry about falling victim to the Giggler Treatment himself. (Ages 9 and older) --Petra WilliamsAbout the Author:
RODDY DOYLE won the Booker Prize in 1993 for his adult novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. Once a Geography and English teacher in North Dublin, Roddy Doyle has written four novels for children. This is his first picture book.
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