Book Review: The Hundred and One Dalmations

Rating: ★★★★☆

Pongo and his new wife Missis, along with their two human “pets,” are delighted by the arrival of puppies, but their joy is shattered when the puppies mysteriously disappear.  The two dogs do some sleuthing to find out where their puppies have gone, and embark on a cross-country adventure to rescue them from the diabolical Cruella de Ville.

There is a genre of 1950′s British children’s literature, usually populated with animal characters, that is charming and enjoyable for both children and adults.  This is well written, with high action and suspense, appealing characters, and quite a bit of understated humor.

There is an unfortunate (and blessedly brief) scene reflecting a male attitude of superiority toward females, in which Pongo and a male spaniel laugh together “in a very masculine way” at Missis’ inability to tell right from left (p. 91).  This attitude does not permeate the rest of the book, however, and the story loses nothing in the deletion of the exchange.  It might be enough to explain that the spaniel thought Missis was not as smart as he because she was a lady, but that he was wrong because God created individuals with varying levels of intelligence, unrelated to their gender.

Apart from this small blemish, the story is full of humor, marital and filial loyalty, kindness, generosity, courage, and sacrifice for the sake of those we love.  Although the reading level is in the 8-12 range, it will appeal to younger listeners as well.

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Publication Information: Smith, Dodie. Hundred and One Dalmations, The. Grahme-Johnstone, Janet & Anne (Illustrators). Puffin. 1956. ISBN: 0140340343.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 08-12,
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Posted on January 21, 2010

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