Parent and friend of Byte the Book, Sara J felt inspired to write a piece on Roddy Doyle. We really enjoyed it as it gave a good insight into how interactive the reading experience can be. If you’re interested in blogging or reviewing on Byte the Book then please do drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roddy Doyle – The Meanwhile Adventures/The Giggler Treatment
I am scratching an itch by writing this review because since I finished reading them, I have been desperate to spread my joy of the wonders that are Roddy Doyle’s children’s books. The Giggler Treatment is an old favourite in our house but what has prompted this review is that I have just finished reading The Meanwhile Adventures to my 7 and 5 year old boys. Our family are in a lovely phase of supplementing their reading with eking out a modern classic each night before bed. So Roddy was finished the other week, sandwiched in between Matilda and our current hero The BFG by Roald Dahl. I have had many funny conversations with my 5 year old who mistakes Roddy and Roald and Doyle and Dahl when we talk about our favourite books, but there can be no mistaking when I’m reading Roddy’s work.
It seems that out of the available adults in our house, only I seem to volunteer when the boys choose his books and that is because it requires a few attributes from the reader:
1) You have to feel utter joy at the anarchic approach Roddy has to chapters, plot, dialogue and characters. Nothing is safe from his ripping up and rewriting of the rules.
2) Due to above-said joy and wonder, you must push past the first chapter and not give in to confusion or convention trying to distract you.
3) You need to be able to do an Irish accent on a few of the words. If you manage that then you might, as I did, bravely give in and read all of it that way. Doyle peppers the text with gorgeous phrasing and words like Eejit to help you along and really, it’s worth the initial embarrassment. Plus my kids are laughing so much at the story and the writing that laughing at Mummy’s accent makes it even more fun.
4) So it would help to be able to not be offended when your children laugh at you.
5) You need to be able to embrace “naughty topics” and not censor yourself or your kids. A book like The Giggler Treatment is unabashedly, rampantly, unapologetically all about dog poo. About how close one of the characters is to stepping in it, who put it there and why and which dog it is that provided the poo. I know many parents who would blush, shut the book and walk away on reading this but I pity those parents. They have no idea what fun and mastery they are missing.
I always knew that Roddy was a great author even before I knew it, because The Commitments is one of my favourite films. Then I read a couple of his books in my 20s and was impressed all over again. Now my admiration is turning to gratitude; as a parent who loves to read him to my kids, but also as one who is quietly trying to write my own books for my kids and anyone else who might want to read them. I love how I can almost feel his satisfaction as he writes so cleverly, inventively and challenges the reader/listener. He makes me want to write, to read, to laugh and I can’t help imagining how much fun it must have been to write his books.
Roddy Doyle is my hero.
My itch is now scratched.
If Sara’s reviews have made you want to buy these books then please do click on the links below: