By Eileen Murphy
THE GIGGLER TREATMENT, by Roddy Doyle, with drawings by Brian Ajhar. Published by Arthur A.Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press. 112 pp.
You definitely know someone who’s gotten the Giggler Treament. In fact, you may even have gotten it yourself.
So, what is the Giggler Treatment?
It’s the subject of Irish author Roddy Doyle’s delightful new children’s book.
In plain English, please.
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Well, it’s something that you really, really don’t want to have happen to you. Although it’s very funny if it happens to someone walking next to you.
All right. When grown-ups are subjected to the Giggler Treatment, they step into a big pile of . . . stuff.
Yucky stuff. You know . . .
Just spit it out!
O.K. It’s when they step into a big pile of dog poo.
Well, therein hangs the tale.
Doyle, the award-winning author best known for his books "The Commitments," and "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha," has produced a charming, irreverant book that will amuse both children and their parents. In "The Giggler Treatment," Doyle introduces small, furry creatures called Gigglers who secretly watch over children, in case adults are mean to them.
Mean in what way?
You kow, the usual ways. If they send a kid to bed without dinner, for instance.
Yeah, I hate that. What else?
If they fart and blame it on the child, or if they give a child fish and say it’s chicken. That kind of stuff. Now stop interrupting.
Oh, all right.
As you’ve probably guessed, the book is written in a breezy, informal style, with plenty of asides and little jokes along the way. The story centers on Mr. Mack, a professional biscuit taster who is a very happy man and a kind father. One day, he gets mad and sends his children to bed without supper. Although he relents almost immediately, it’s too late; the Gigglers are already planning his poo plunge.
But where do they get the poo?
You’re interrupting again.
Sorry. But where do they get it?
The Gigglers get their poo supply at the source, so to speak. They wait for dogs to do what comes naturally, then they scoop it up and leave it in the path of the offending adult.
Do the dogs mind?
Interrupting . . .
C’mon – do they?
Actually, they don’t. The dogs earn 20p per go, and are making quite a nice living off the poo. In fact, Rover, the dog in the story, is a millionaire.
So, does Mr. Mack actually step in the poo?
Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But it’s a very exciting story, with the children and the Gigglers and Rover racing to try to keep Mr. Mack’s toes out of the yuck.
The illustrations, by Brian Ajhar, are really cute, and Doyle peppers his tale with plenty of asides that are sure to keep parents in stitches: Mr. Mack’s wife’s maiden name is Fleetwood, which makes her full name Bille Jean Fleetwood Mack (bah-dum-dum!). The jokes about the dry cream crackers, which are so boring that they give Mr. Mack nightmares, have a Lewis Carroll-ish feel to them.
A Lewis who?
Lewis Carroll, the guy who wrote "Alice in Wonderland." His characters are hilariously droll, and so are Doyle’s, especially the dull, boring cream crackers who badger Mr. Mack with dry observations like, "A car has four wheels but a bike has only two. Isn’t that interesting?" or "If you put your feet in water, they get wet. Isn’t that interesting?"
Hilarious? Well, if you say so. But it’s mostly funny stuff for kids, right?
Yes, yes, yes. Now, no more interruptions.
Kids will squeal with laughter as Mr. Mack’s foot gets closer and closer to the poo, while parents will be grateful for Doyle’s expert treatment of the subject matter. In his hands (so to speak) the dog poo is naughty and funny, without being overly vulgar. The subject matter of "The Giggler Treatment" may raise a few eyebrows, but it’s really a charming fairy tale, told by a master storyteller.
About dog poo.
Right, about dog poo. Now off to bed, the lot of you.
We have six copies of "The Giggler Treatment" to give away to some of you lucky readers. Just tell us, in 25 words or less, the most "Giggler"-worthy thing a grown-up did to you when you were a child. Was it when the dentist told you to raise your hand if it hurt and he’d stop drilling your teeth? Was it when your mother told you that broccoli tasted like french fries? Or how about when . . . ?
To enter, send us a postcard with your name, address and daytime phone number.