Book Review: Rover Saves Christmas by Roddy Doyle

rover saves christmasThis seasonally appropriate book came highly recommended to me by my old boss. It’s the sequel to The Giggler Treatment, as I found out later, but you don’t need it for any puzzling backstory. I read the book for the first time way back in January and fell so utterly in love with it that I kept an eye out for Roddy Doyle at every book sale I visited. I’ve added the aforementioned The Giggler Treatment and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha to my collection, although I haven’t read either yet.

The book features an extremely anxious Santa Claus who’s worried about getting everyone’s presents to their homes after Rudolph the reindeer calls in sick. Out of desperation, he turns to Rover, a dog who has “a brain the size of Africa tucked into a head the size of a baked potato”. Rover scrambles together a team of two boys, two adventurous toddlers whose limited vocabulary (one can say “Who are you?” while the other says “Bum-bum”) is understood by all and sundry and two lizards in love. With this ragtag crew on his sleigh, Santa sets off on his annual mission in a race against the sun.

What I love about the book is that it breaks all rules of a conventional story. It has a bunch of ridiculous characters and ludicrous situations (a mother that enjoys bungee jumping in her house while a flock of birds terrorize the skies over Australia with plastic machine guns), it argues with an imaginary reader, chapters frequently digress, interrupt themselves, give instructions, are disturbed by commercial breaks and even have babies that grow into teenage chapters and adult chapters before eventually dying. It also has a horde of miniscule jokes all throughout the book which not all kids (and grown ups) might get on their first read. The book also offers three different endings to choose from if the real ending turns out to be too dull for you. And right at the very end, there’s a chapter with funny messagey bits (“because all good stories have messages, and this one has eight”), a glossary explaining unfamiliar terms (“PITCHES – playing fields. Soccer is played on a pitch. Swimming isn’t, unless the pitch is very, very wet”) and a bibliography including fake titles starring Rover (How to Sniff Friends and Influence People, Dog Poo Philosophy Press). Rover Saves Christmas is an easy-breezy read which also happens to be a lot of fun.

Rover Saves Christmas

Roddy Doyle

Pages: 160

Price: INR 150

Publisher: Scholastic

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