-- 11/8/00

Roddy Doyle, illus. by Brian Ajhar. Scholastic/Levine, $14.95 (112p) ISBN 0-439-16299-8

In his first story for children, Booker Prize winner Doyle (Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha) pens a robustly silly romp served up with a generous helping of Irish cheek. At the outset of the tale, Mister Mack, a biscuit tester, is about to step in "dog poo." Displaying a gleefully sadistic sense of timing, Doyle draws out the suspense to outrageous lengths, interrupting his narrative with chapter after chapter of digressions that keep readers squirming in their seats until¦ d s the patriarch step in it or d sn't he? Besides bulletins on the number of inches remaining between Mister Mack's sh and the poo, the author introduces the dog behind it (the Mack family's pooch, Rover) and the small, furry, chameleon-like creatures called Gigglers who have gone to great pains to collect it (Gigglers watch over children and give adults who are unfair to them "the Giggler Treatment," or "poo on the sh "), as well as Mister Mack's alleged offense. When the facts come to light, it's up to the Mack boys, their baby sister, the Giggler they have caught, Rover and their mum to avert the impending poo-disaster. A bracingly rude dose of fun. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)