cover image Brilliant

Brilliant

Roddy Doyle, illus. by Emily Hughes. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-41

Saint Patrick may have rid Ireland of snakes, but it takes an army of children to chase off a citywide case of the blues. Expanded from a 2011 short story that Doyle (A Greyhound of a Girl) wrote for the organizers of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the novel borrows its dominant imagery from Winston Churchill’s famous description of depression as a “black dog” on his back. When Raymond and Gloria Kelly hear their granny use the phrase to describe a widespread malaise brought on by high unemployment and a shaky economy, they sneak out in search of the mongrel, intent on retrieving the city’s stolen funny bone. In pursuit, throngs of other children whose “da,” uncle, or brother are also down in the dumps join the hunt. Some readers may find it disingenuous to suggest that the cure for depression is optimism, but Doyle fills the kids’ adventure with fun—farting dogs, rats with attitude, and a variety of talking animals that get the best lines in the book. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)