Pongo and Missis had a lovely life. With their human owners, the Dearlys, to look after them, they lived in a comfortable home in London with their 15 adorable Dalmatian puppies, loved and admired by all. Especially the Dearlys' neighbor Cruella de Vil, a fur-fancying fashion plate with designs on the Dalmatians' spotted coats! So, when the puppies are stolen from the Dearly home, and even Scotland Yard is unable to find them, Pongo and Missis know they must take matters into their own paws! The delightful children's classic adapted twice for popular Disney productions. Ages 8-11
Born Dorothy Gladys Smith in Lancashire, England, Dodie Smith was raised in Manchester (her memoir is titled A Childhood in Manchester). She was just an infant when her father died, and she grew up fatherless until age 14, when her mother remarried and the family moved to London. There she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and tried for a career as an actress, but with little success. She finally wound up taking a job as a toy buyer for a furniture store to make ends meet. Giving up dreams of an acting career, she turned to writing plays, and in 1931 her first play, Autumn Crocus, was published (under the pseudonym “C.L. Anthony”). It was a success, and her story — from failed actress to furniture store employee to successful writer — captured the imagination of the public and she was featured in papers all over the country. Although she could now afford to move to a London townhouse, she didn't get caught up in the “literary” scene — she married a man who was a fellow employee at the furniture store.
During World War II she and her husband moved to the United States, mostly because of his stand as a conscientious objector and the social and legal difficulties that entailed. She was still homesick for England, though, as reflected in her first novel, I Capture the Castle (1948). During her stay she formed close friendships with such authors as Christopher Isherwood and John Van Druten, and was aided in her literary endeavors by writer A.J. Cronin.
She is perhaps best known for her novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, a hugely popular childrens book that has been made into a string of very successful animated films by Walt Disney. She died in 1990.
When I was little, I got a copy of this book from my grandmother. It was old, the cover was falling off, and the edges of the pages were stained red. I adored it, and read it several times.
Later came the various movies, first the animated version, which was enjoyable, and then the live-action movie, which was awful. None maintained what captivated me most about the story - the inner life of the dogs and their complexity.
Anyway, I was suddenly seized by the need to read it again, and couldn't find my old copy. It must have fallen apart beyond repair, since I certainly would never have let it go otherwise. I got a new copy and when it arrived, devoured the whole thing in one night (it was shorter than it seemed back then).
Still a good story. Still special and to be treasured. As an adult, the datedness of the women characters (Nanny wears pants! Shocking! But she keeps the apron on, so it's ok.) which extends to the female dogs, is more troubling. Even Cruella does not ultimately have control over her life, but is trapped in the winds of change that befall her husband's career.
Other than this, it's still a classic, and still one every kid should read (with maybe a nice chat about feminism after).
“Like many other much-loved humans, they believed that they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that their dogs owned them."
Cruella de Vil is enough to frighten the spots off a Dalmatian pup. But when she steals a whole family of them, the puppies’ parents, Pongo and Missus, lose no time in mounting a daring rescue mission. Will they be in time to thwart Cruella’s evil scheme, or have they bitten off more than they can chew?
WHEN I Discovered This Classic Likely when I first watched the Disney adaptation in the 90s. I'm much more of a cat person, but I've always loved the film and adored Dalmatians!
WHY I Chose to Read It You picked my December classic and The Hundred and One Dalmatians won (27.32% of the vote). It was included in the poll because I wanted to read this newly-published edition, illustrated by Alex T. Smith.
WHAT Makes It A Classic It is written by I Capture the Castle author Dodie Smith, a much-loved children's classic and author.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic I was hooked on The Hundred and One Dalmatians from the beginning. I loved discovering all the little differences from the story I grew up with and was surprised to discover that our courageous couple is not Pongo and Perdita, but Pongo and Missus. I was pleased to see that all of the animals in the story still had distinct, lovable personalities.
The Hundred and One Dalmatians is written in a wonderful style. It's told almost conversationally, and in a way that is incredibly enjoyable to follow. I read it as if I were floating down a calm river or on a quiet jaunt through the countryside. But combined with the tense – and at times quite frightening – scenes that make Cruella de Vil one of the most notable villains in children's literature, it becomes a brilliant canine adventure. It's also beautifully accompanied by Alex T. Smith's gorgeous illustrations, particularly of the puppies!
Even though I adored the story, I was a little disappointed by the attitude towards some of the female characters and the perpetuation of traditional gender roles, even if it was originally published 60 years ago. I was also intrigued by the description of Cruella de Vil (“She had a dark skin, black eyes with a tinge of red in them, and a very pointed nose.") compared to how she's usually imagined – as a lady with pale skin. If you Google 'Cruella de Vil' and 'dark skin', you get zero results. Why is this?
Even if a little old-fashioned at times, The Hundred and One Dalmatians is still an incredibly charming classic that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a delightful end to the 2015 Classics Challenge.
"Nanny Cook slept dreaming of Dalmatian puppies dressed as babies, and Nanny Butler slept dreaming of babies dresses as Dalmatian puppies."
WILL It Stay A Classic It's difficult to think of the book without thinking of the film. Would it still be a classic without Disney?
WHO I’d Recommend It To People who love illustrated fiction, puppies and children's books.
“Dogs can never speak the language of humans, and humans can never speak the language of dogs. But many dogs can understand almost every word humans say, while humans seldom learn to recognize more than half a dozen barks, if that.”
A delightful children's book that I read as a kid (many times) and haven't read since. I decided to read it again to see if it held up and was still fun. It definitely was an entertaining read.
When I was looking it up, I was surprised to see so many Goodreads reviews complaining of sexism or anti-feminine views presented in the book. This was certainly never anything I noticed as a kid, but then, how many kids are clued in to that sort of thing? I found myself reading to enjoy, and also to examine, and my findings are that this book is hardly demeaning of women.
To be clear, I mostly focused on gender roles and the differences portrayed between the sexes, and judged the book thereby.
What first caught my attention was the fact that Mr. Dearly was the primary caregiver to the newborn dalmatian puppies (beyond their mother, Missis). He crawls into the cupboard for two days feeding babies constantly while working long distance over the phone. If traditional gender roles were in play, shouldn't this be Mrs. Dearly's job? This is clearly an inversion of the binary. Secondarily, of the two female nannies, Nanny Butler insists on wearing pants after the Dearlys are married, and back when this written, this was hardly the social norm. Again, a seeming inversion of the stereotype.
What I looked at next was the differences between Pongo and Missis. Pongo can understand human speech, can read, and thinks faster and clearer than Missis. On a cursory reading, it does appear that Pongo is presented as superior, and Missis as inferior, but that isn't the case. It is a clearly established conceit throughout the book that dogs differ in intelligence, and in human understanding. It is quite clearly stated that Pongo played with alphabet blocks and volumes of Shakespeare (thus accounting for his English comprehension) and is even referred to as the "keenest mind in all of dogdom" which establishes his special peculiarity in both intelligence and human understanding. If one considers that a dog learns English much as any other non-native English speaker, this lines up exactly with human experience and is not sexist at all. After all, how much English would you learn if the most common word you heard was your name, and the rest was in condescending baby talk? Probably not even as much as Missis. Also, she clearly seems to be personally disinterested: she simply does not bother or care to learn more, which is a personal choice.
Now, one could make a case for sexism based on the fact that it is Pongo to whom these advantages are given and not to Missis, and if all the dominant traits were Pongo's, I would agree with you, but in almost all other cases, the two dogs are equal. They share equal affection and concern for one another. They equally adopt and feel ownership for all of the other dalmatian puppies, they are equal in their strength and determination throughout their desperate journey. In fact, Missis even trumps Pongo when he is injured by the little boy who throws things. She restrains him from acting against the child in anger; she finds the haystack and forces him to rest; she finds the Spaniel and secures food and lodging for them both. Again, if this were clearly sexist, he would be rescuing her instead of the other way around. In this episode, she is the hero, not the male dog.
There is one episode with the Spaniel in which Missis tries to learn her right from her left and ends up horribly confused and unable to get the two straight, and that could be seen as an indication that the female possess less intelligence, but abstract concepts are hard to grasp for someone that isn't introduced to them from a young age. I am a male, and I am an adult, and I frequently have trouble telling my right from my left. This is humiliating to admit, but it is true. I never bothered to learn them when I was a child, and as an adult, the concept is more difficult to grasp. There is clear research showing that much learning is cemented in the early ages, and the brain becomes more rigid after that. I have managed to decrease my ambiguity about right and left, but it has taken practice and focus. In the story, Missis has much more on her mind, and is clearly emotionally stressed about both her husband and her puppies. It is no wonder, then, that during the heat of the moment she simply became frustrated and couldn't grasp the concept. Again, why her and not Pongo? Again, I think this is part of staying consistent to character rather than making a sexist statement about the inferiority of women. If anything, Missis' lack of education is more Mrs. Dearly's fault that her own for not providing her with Shakespeare to chew on, but then while Mr. Dearly is given barely a few sentences to round out his job and life, we are given almost nothing about Mrs. Dearly. This is, after all, a story about the dogs and not their pets, and so there is precious little from which to draw conclusions. In order to remain un-sexist, one does not have to always choose the female over the male, but must show equality and fair treatment. In all, Missis is Pongo's equal in practically every way that matters. I get the feeling that if Pongo chose to teach her, Missis would learn quite aptly.
Lastly, some people got upset about the fact that the one puppy who was obsessed with television was the youngest female puppy, Cadpig, who was also the weakest, and they called this sexist. I disagree. In fact, this lone, apparently weak female made for Dodie Smith (the author) the most important observation of all. The narrator of the story, not necessarily Smith, appears to be religious. The last building in which the puppies take refuge is a church. Cadpig becomes more obsessed with the nativity on display than she ever was with the television. In the end, she concludes that whoever "owned [the church] - someone very kind she was sure" had set out that refuge for them, complete with puppy sized beds. Clearly she is misinterpreting the reality of a church, as only a young, uneducated puppy can (female or male) but the narrator is using her to make a statement about God: the kindest person who looks out for even the most lost and destitute soul, according to most Christian theologies anyway. It is not insignificant, then, that the smallest and weakest character, through her obsession to the television, is the only one to realize the ultimate reality of good triumphing over the "de Vil". To the woman is given the realization of the theme, plot, and message of the entire story.
Sexist? hardly. if it were, it would be Pongo making that realization. There is every indication that he missed the implication entirely.
Actually, for my own part, I thought that having the villain of the story be a woman, the colorful and deliciously evil Cruella de Vil, could possibly be the strongest argument made for sexism. After all, the woman is the evil one! However, as Cruella's cat explains, her husband was no less evil, just weaker, and in that is the deconstruction of the argument: Cruella is the villain because she is much stronger than her husband, who is made out to be a mostly sympathetic character until his true nature is revealed.
Therefore, between Mr. Dearly inverting the nurturing paradigm, Missis heroically saving her husband, Cadpig realizing the moral of the story, and Cruella trumping her husband's strength, this book is not sexist in the least. At least, in my humble opinion. Read it with an open mind, divorcing yourself of pre-conceived ideas and agendas and decide for yourself.
Over all the book was entertaining, amusing, fun, and quite well written for what is essentially a children's novel. As much as I enjoyed it as a kid, I enjoyed it probably just as much as an adult.
What a lovely book. I saw the movie several years back and had greatly enjoyed it. But the book is more enjoyable than the movie. One of the best books on dogs that I have ever read. Lovely reading and a must read , even if you are not a dog lover
Another one of my childhood favourites that only until recently discovering it was based on a book. I used to rewatch the Disney Classic numerous times as a kid!
Even though there’s some slight differences, Disney pretty much stayed faithful to Smith’s original story...
The only real difference is Pongo the main Dalmatian is with Missis and we’re introduced to Perdita later on. The evil Cruella de Vil is hell bent on turning the newly born pups into a fur coat and it’s a race against time to stop her.
I loved the depiction of the dogs, there’s some fun nuggets of the pet and owner relationship. I also liked that some throw away lines during the first half of the story was picked up later on.
This book far exceeded my expectations, was slightly nervous if it would hold up for me. But it was perfect, the illustrations were a great addition.
Update: Finally got around to re-watching the movie and while I enjoyed it and will likely watch it again in the future...the book is a better fit for me.
Original Review: That was certainly a lot darker (and funnier) than what I remember from the Disney version. Also I feel like a lot of this was changed for the movie. It's been too long since I've seen it to be sure. We are gonna re-watch the movie tonight for comparison. Not sure if my husband and I will bother with the "sequel" book since it looks like it has the barest connection with this one.
The part of this book I liked best was the Starlight Barking. Since reading it at age 9 or so, I have observed the phenomenon innumerable times. It's comforting to know what the dogs are really doing. Thank you, Dodie Smith, for explaining it so well.
Three or four years ago, while I was living in Sunnyvale, I saw a remarkable example of how useful the Starlight Barking can be. My friend Beth Ann has two very smart Dobermanns. Late one evening, both of them suddenly started yelping furiously, for no apparent reason. We could just about hear that the mutt next door was also expressing concern. Luckily, Beth Ann is quite fluent in Dog, and knew that she needed to go outside to see what was up. She immediately smelled smoke. The house two doors down was on fire! She called the fire brigade, and, literally within five minutes, we had three giant fire trucks parked outside, blocking the whole street. The dogs looked pleased with the effect their warning had had.
As one does, we went out again to gawp. It wasn't actually that dramatic - the house in question was empty, so no one had to go in and perform a rescue. While we were watching, our neighbor stumbled out of his front door in a bathrobe, looking very sleepy and confused. "Oh... right! So that's why Gromit was so agitated! I see!" He was clearly rather less fluent than Beth Ann.
I saw this as a "classic read" and realized that it was yet another book that I never marked as "read."
This was, hands down, one of my kids' favorite books. If you've only ever seen the Disney movies then you definitely should give this book a read. It is a bit different from Disney's version - aren't they always - but the repetitiveness and alliteration in the book make it a delight for children. There is a reason it is a "classic."
I loved this audiobook experience with this classic. My brother loves the Disney movie so I’ve always known about the book, but hadn’t been super interested in reading it as I felt I already knew the story. I was wrong, and offer my apologies to Dodie Smith. Her writing drew me in and kept my attention throughout the book. The plot isn' exactly the same as Disney is known to change things and they definitely did for this book. Even though I grew up with the movie, I greatly prefer the book over the movie. In the future, I'm going to look into her other works because I was hooked throughout the book. I ended up buying my own audio copy so I can enjoy the story anytime I want. The narrator was the perfect choice. He added some liveliness and sensitivity that was required for some of the character's and iciness that goes with Cruella.
Look, I have nothing against Disney. Their movies are fun and entertaining. But I just wish maybe they would give more credit to the original works that inspired them for their stories. Most people I know don't even realize that so many of their movies are based on actual books. Really, really good books.
I mean, Perdita doesn't even show up until maybe chapter 3, and she is NOT Pongo's wife. His wife's name is Missus. Why did they have to cut out Missus, that brave soul? Poor Missus. She's adorable: "I'm not very good at right and left," said Missis, "especially left." The Spaniel smiled, then looked at her paws. "This will help you," he said. "That paw with the pretty spot -- that is your right paw." "Then which is my left paw?" "Why, the other paw, of course." "Back or front?" asked Missis. "Just forget your back paws." Missis was puzzled. Could she forget her back paws? And if she could, would it be safe? ... Just before they reached the kitchen garden, Missis said, "Pongo, do dogs have spots on their right paws or on their left paws?" "That depends on the dog," said Pongo. Missis shook her head. "It's hopeless," she thought. "How can I depend on a thing that depends?" ... The Spaniel noticed her dazed look and said playfully, "Now which is your right paw?" "One of the front ones," said Missis brightly."
"So Mr. Dearly rang up the Splendid Vet, who was delighted to be waked up and called out at nearly midnight on Christmas Eve."
"How was anyone to guess that this playful creature owned one of the keenest brains in Dogdom? It was at work now. All through the long December night he put two and two together and made four. Once or twice he almost made five."
Read aloud to me on late spring evenings by my nostalgic nineteen year old daughter - this is NOT the Disney version. Completely charming with a Beatrix Potteresque realism added to the animal characterizations of Pongo and Missis...and Perdita, who is quite a different character from the film version. This makes a wonderful read-aloud and many children would enjoy it, however --- Cruella de Vil is truly evil and her casual talk of drowning many kittens and pups would be disturbing to many modern families. Parents are strongly cautioned, but the high quality of the writing makes me hope that The Hundred and One Dalmatians will continue to find an audience. ( I'll wager it's been purged from many libraries though for the above reasons.) The history of the Dalmation breed is interwoven with the story and Dodie Smith's fine writing makes it read smooth as silk. The English village dogs who assist Pongo and Missis in their quest to save their family are finely rendered - I loved the spaniel, daughter loved the retrievers and the Staffordshire terrier (who knows just what ought to be done with Cruella). A wonderful book and I look forward to the further adventures of the Cadpig in the The Starlight Barking. ---- If you think you know this story , but do not know the Cadpig, you've not read the original.
This book was adorable! Disney did an excellent job of adaptation, but I enjoyed this original story much more. For one Cruella sounds like she might be African American, and there are several lgbt hints throughout. Perdita is a third adult dog too. But the rescue is on point, and the happiness at reunion is palpable.
This was one of the most sexist books I have ever read. Worse, I first read it when I was ten or so and didn't notice the sexism, which means that its ridiculous list of 'male' and 'female' attributes went into my psyche unchallenged.
According to Dodie Smith, men and male dogs are stronger, don't feel the cold, understand both numbers and words better, have a sense of direction, possess deductive powers, are inventive, loyal and brave.
Women and female dogs can't tell their left from their right after a page of instruction in how to do so, feel proud of not getting lost while heading in a straight line, can't count - even one's own puppies, don't understand either human or dog speech as well as a male dog, get tired about four times as fast as male puppies, are jealous, vain, proud of their clothes, are hysterical, silly, distracted, and generally ridiculous. But they are pretty.
What a steaming pile of crap.
Also, there's a scene of "thieving gypsies", and one can speak either Romany or "normal". Ugh.
I really wanted to like this. It's a charming story, in parts. But it is choc full of blatant, unchecked sexism, and I am boggled that Disney seems to have done a better job than the source.
Why I Recommend Bumping This DOWN On Your TBR: There are racist (against Romani people, who are described using the g-word) and misogynist undertones. I felt protective of Missus and Perdita, and therefore hated how Pongo was essentially "the smart one". The plot is boring, with scenes that seem to only have the purpose of dragging out the journey. The Disney movie is basically a well-edited version of this. The only element that I'm not sure how I feel about is that Cruella is married in the novel.
I imagine most people will experience The 101 Dalmatians the way I did: first seeing the beloved Disney animation many times, then hearing there is a live-action adaptation (no one has paid me to watch that yet), and then perhaps reading the original book. I'm glad I proceeded to the latter phase: it's an enjoyable and quick story, filled with many surprises when compared with the 1961 animated version.
The first surprise is that Dodie Smith's book was published in 1957, only antedating the film by four years: a pretty quick turnaround by anyone's standards. The next is that the Dearlys are already married; there's no meet-cute to be had in the park. Instead of a struggling musician, Mr. Dearly is a wealthy consultant, having saved the British government from a financial crisis. Pongo's wife is named Missis, and the character Perdita (the Latin word for "lost") is another dalmatian who has lost her own puppies and is brought in by the Dearlys to help suckle Pongo and Missis's 15-puppy litter. Mrs. Dearly's friendship with Cruella de Vil is as head-scratching as ever, but in the book she invites the Dearlys to a dinner party. We learn that Cruella loves purple, covers all her food in pepper, has an equally dastard (if less flamboyant) husband, and owns a mean white cat who ends up being part of her demise. Her associates are Saul and Jasper Baddun, rather than Horace and Jasper as they are called in the film. I was impressed that the book described them as one tall-and-skinny and the other short-and-rotund; I would have just assumed that was purely an animation conceit (as it makes for good design and comedy, ala Laurel and Hardy). The midnight bark dog communication network is still an important part of the story, as is covering the puppies in soot to hide them, but there are many additional elements. An old dog who helps hide and feed Pongo and Missis, a brief hideaway in a church, a fire that burns down a waystation, and so on. Perhaps most shockingly of all (spoiler alert?), the Dearlys end up buying the house where the dalmatians were detained for death and deskinning and rehabilitate it as the place to raise their now 101-strong collection of dalmatians (Perdita's lost litter was part of that group).
This will be a fun read for anyone who loves the film (it's my wife's favorite in the Disney opus, and she already owned the book) or anyone who loves dogs. It's one of those books that winkingly asserts dogs are in actuality much smarter than people, and those silly humans only think they're the owners and the dogs the "pets". If that kind of thing delights you, it's even more your type of book. *eyeroll* Still, good fun, and the kind of book that you'll be playing cinematically in your head as you craft your own alternate film version.
Доскоро в Лондон живееше млада двойка далматински кучета на име Понго и Мисис Понго. (Мисис прибави името на Понго към своето след женитбата, но повечето хора й викаха само Мисис.) Те имаха щастието да притежават млада двойка човеци на име мистър и мисис Душкинг – мили, послушни и рядко умни, почти колкото кучета. Много разбираха от лай – например лаят, означаващ „Навън, моля!“, „Вътре, моля!“, „Побързайте с обяда ми!“ и „Какво ще кажете за една разходчица?“ А когато не разбираха, често се досещаха – ако ги погледнеш изразително или ги подращиш с нетърпелива лапа. Прочетете ревюто на "Книжни Криле": https://knijnikrile.wordpress.com/202...
Man I absolutely loved this Disney movie growing up, so I was completely shocked that there was a book! Which meant that I just had to dive into it to see if I would still be in love with these dogs.
The 101 Dalmatians was completely adorable and such a quick read. I will admit that it is a bit different than the movie but still quite enjoyable. In it, Pongo is with Misses and eventually we meet Perdita. Oh man, those dogs are just way too cute. Then we meet the incredible and super evil Cruella de Vil, who is still wanting all the puppies.
In the end, I really enjoyed all the characters and the entire storyline. Now I feel like I need to re-watch the movies just to get all the nostalgic feelings back.
Не пригадаю, коли востаннє читала таку добру, любеньку (!) історію. Тим більше про песиків! Ми всі бачили мультфільм від Disney, дехто навіть подужав фільм, але, як і завжди, книжка краща-краща-краща... • Коли у Понґо та Леді (після заміжжя вона стала Леді Понґо, але улюбленці й надалі кликали її просто Леді) народилося п‘ятнадцять цуценят, єдиною, здавалося б, проблемою, було те, як їх всіх прогодувати. Але ні Няні, ні Любенькі, ні Леді не могли здогадатися, що найбільша біда - це Лютелла, яка мріяла викрасти малюків і зробити з красивих далматинців чергову шубку (звісно, про лихі наміри здогадувався Понґо, але ж він був розумним псом!). ⭐️ Звернувшись за допомогою до собак Англії через Опівнічний Телегав, Понґо й Леді залишають улюбленців Любеньких і йдуть на пошуки дітлахів. • Історія закінчиться дуже добре, навіть ліпше, ніж у мультику чи фільмі. Особлива подяка Доді Сміт за Спанієля і його любов до вечірнього чаю з молоком та підсмажених на вогні грінок 💙 • Малий поганець був поганцем лише тому, що ніколи не знався з собаками.
*** ORIGINAL REVIEW -- August 1, 2007 *** O happy day when during a free-reading period in Mrs. Chismar's fifth-grade class I opened an old, dog-eared (as it were) edition of this masterpiece. Smith's ability to evoke a scene and pen enchanting but vulnerable characters earns her a place among the greats. The image of the ancient colonel sharing tea with his Old English Sheepdog in their sound Suffolk country home before a crackling fire on a stormy night is my standard for domestic comfort (Mmm, hot buttered toast). I have only read two works by Smith---this and I Capture the Castle---and both are brilliant, brilliant works. Yes, her former story has been appropriated (and deftly exploited) by Disney, but why is the original---why aren't all of her writings---more visible? She masters the pen, people. If anyone knows how to get ahold of a copy with the original artwork, CALL ME!
*** UPDATED REVIEW -- September 6, 2010 *** listened to a nicely narrated audio version. this time through, i was struck by the casually received misogyny and the enforced, strict gender roles throughout. i still quite enjoy the story, but getting to know dodie smith's oeuvre better over the years, i can't say i'm surprised by this; she internalized QUITE a bit of gendered ick.
As weird as it sounds, this was the first time I read this book. I read the Disney version when I was a kid but this one was so much better! The dogs felt like real characters and they were so sassy and independent! I loved reading about their adventures around England.
This is a great book for preteens, it teaches traditional values about marriage, parenting, and empathy towards animals. As you probably already know it's a story about dogs being rescued from a villain trying to turn them into fur coats. It has a happy ending, Christian-friendly themes, and a fairly active and well-constructed plot that makes me think it's good story for children to read. It's sometimes tense but never scary or frightening (scenes often involve things like dogs almost being discovered by Cruella).
Given that it was published in England in 1956, it's socially progressive in showing alternative marital norms, a strong female antagonist, and keeping a relatively subtle religious tone. That said, it's espousing traditional values in quite an open-minded way, and most importantly, teaching children to be inquisitive about animals. The only human that can talk to dogs doesn't talk to them with words, which is interesting, as I also don't talk to my dogs with words and find it does lead to closer communication. It at least gives children the insight that perhaps dogs have their own language and so it doesn't make too much sense that they should understand our language without us also paying attention to their own language.
I think the role of marriage is fairly explicit. The opening pages mention how the Dearlys took the husband's surname, the dalmatians took the father's surname (although the mother commonly uses her maiden name), the stewards kept their surnames (Cook and Butler), and Cruella De Vil made her husband take her surname. It's hard to tell whether Smith is condemning women who make their husband take their surname, but later in the story one of the parent Dalmatians says that the only difference between Cruella and her husband was strength — both were evil.
The role of parenting is also fairly obvious. Pongo (the father) shows bravery in learning how to protect his pups by doing things he has never done before with confidence. Missis (the mother) shows care in keeping track of her pups, saving Pongo, and while making many mistakes always showing good humour and compassion. While these fall into tropes of provider/carer roles, it's done in a very natural, open-minded, mature way that I think gives good ideas to young readers. The dogs are anthropomorphized so much here it is easy for children to relate to them.
I feel one review here has excessively criticized the use of 'Gypsy' and 'Romany' as terms in this book. The passage makes no negative connotations about these animals, only in that they and their dialect originate from elsewhere. While these words may now be derogatory, given the book is from 1956 and the context and brevity of the passage, I would not at all worry about children normalizing now-derogatory terms from reading this.
The Christian themes mightn't be welcome to everyone, but I'd like to stress that they are really relatively subtle. At a point where the dogs are cold, they briefly find warm refuge in what they don't recognize to be a Church. At the end of the book one of the dogs fondly remembers being in the Church. I would guess that a third children reading this book might not even realize it is a Church, or see the metaphor of salvation, because there's nothing explicitly mentioning these things. The religious message is small in comparison to the biggest 'moralizing' or 'preachy' sentence in the book, which was that children who do not know dogs might not be 'good' children — I've explicitly quoted this line in the updates I've made for this review (which you can see if you click on this review).
3.5 Stars I thought the audio version was pretty slow, but my 11 year old enjoyed it, so I'll average our ratings. Also, how did I never realize that Cruella de Vil actually spells devil?? Someone please tell me I'm not the only one!
Oh the joy of it. I don't remember seeing the movie as a kid (though I'm told it's the very first movie I ever saw, at a drive-in, at age 4...!) But I vividly remember reading the book when I was in 4th or 5th grade and just loving it. And I wasn't even a "dog person" as a kid (or as an adult, until the past year or so).
Anyway we read it aloud as a chapter book for bedtime last week and it was just as terrific as I remembered. The story is so delightfully British... there is something about the narrative voice that reminds me of Dorothy Sayers (!!) but relishing the diversity of dog personalities rather than regions and classes... and there's also a post-WWII sensibility about the keen brains and willing spirits and good hearts of British Dogdom coming together to rescue the puppies. I love the Twilight Barking network (and the way the dogs refer to it as being "on the barking," like being on the 'phone...).
There are surprisingly moving cameos for dogs like the gallant old spaniel and his "pet" Sir Charles who thinks that Pongo and Missis are ghosts of dalmatians he knew as a child, and the "feather-brained as well as feather-tailed" Irish Setter, and the hearty pipe-smoking Staffordshire Terrier in the moving van, and the Christmas Eve episode where the puppies briefly take refuge in an Anglican church... none of these made it into the Disney movie and they're just so beautiful.
My only quibble with this edition is the illustrations, which are okay but a) there aren't enough of them (the original edition had small or large ink drawing adorning every page, in the style of the Winnie the Pooh books) and b) there's a picture of Cruella that's so ugly and scary that Madeleine made me fold the page over! If you read the book, Cruella isn't described as old or ugly... she's glamorous, young (the same age as newly-wed Mrs Dearly), and bohemian-decadent. Again, like something out of Dorothy Sayers. Or maybe Evelyn Waugh.
Я обожнюю діснеївський мультфільм "101 далматинець". У грудні передивлялася фільм, який мені не дуже, але після книги навіть він здається непоганим. Взагалі "101 далматинець" - це моя найулюбленіша історія з дитинства і найулюбленіший мультфільм з усіх, які я бачила. Але книга виявилась якоюсь гетт іншою.
Далі будуть спойлери! Розповім про ті відмінності між книгою і мультфільмом, які мені не сподобалися.
У книзі Понґо і Леді одразу живуть разом. Тобто Дісней додав цілу історію знайомства Аніти і Роджера (чи, як у книзі, у пана та пані Любеньких). І я так обожнюю ту сцену з озером! А у книзі цього нема.
Лютелла де Явол заміжня! І не заробляє грошей, а у кінці книги її чоловік стає банкрутом, через що вони тікають з країни. Але ж Лютелла для всіх нас була хоч і жахливою злодійкою, але такою і дуже феміністичним персонажем (по мультфільму)! У книзі ж вона просто одружена жінка, яка обожнює хутро.
І те, що просто пошматувало моє серце - у книзі авторка зробила Леді неймовірно тупою і постійно над цим жартувала. Наприклад, була сцена, де її чоловік Понґо з незнайомцем "змовницьки по-чоловічому" з неї ржали, бо вона не могла відрізнити, яка з її лап ліва, а яка права. Уявіть, якби ваш чоловік з незнайомцем ржав з того, що ви чогось не знаєте? Це жахливо. І сцен, де авторка висміювала тупість Леді було дуже багато. Зате от Понґо - неймовірно розумний і кмітливий.
Ще були відмінності у деяких деталях, але то вже таке.
Дехто не розцінює ті жарти про Леді сексистськими. Але мені було образливо таке читати. І, на жаль, ті кілька сцен залишили більше негативу, ніж все інше хороше. Тому я раджу дивитися мульфільм. Книгу можна залишити на полиці лише через красиву святкову обкладинку від @stary_lev .
3,5 ⭐ тільки тому, що я обожнюю цю історію і завдяки цій книзі ми взагалі отримали діснеївський мультфільм.