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The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
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The 101 Dalmatians (original 1956; edition 1996)

by Dodie Smith

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1,648416,647 (4)120
Member:joeeasterly
Title:The 101 Dalmatians
Authors:Dodie Smith
Info:New York, NY. : Barnes & Noble Books, 1996.
Collections:Fiction & Literature
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (1956)

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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Synopsis: Pongo and his wife Missus must rescue their puppies who were kidnapped by the evil Cruella de Vile who wants to make coats out of them.

My rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed reading this book though I didn't think it aged very well. There is lots of sexism in the book which I was surprised by. The book uses some words that are more common in Britain and/or that aren't commonly used now so might be a challenge if you are reading to a child. For instance, there is a joke about there being bachelor flats but no spinster flats.

Similarly, the start of the book is very slow with a discussion of the different human characters. This up front information along with the language made it difficult for young children to enjoy. I tried reading it aloud to my 7 yr olds and they couldn't understand what was going on. I ended up choosing to finish reading it by myself.

I really loved the way the book was narrated. It is told in omniscient narration but heavily from a dog point of view which was hilarious to read. The narrative voice was fun and quite enjoyable.

This book was fairly easy to read if you have some experience with historical fiction. I sometimes struggle with the language of classics but had no problem with this book. It was simple to read.

I loved the story which is very similar to the Disney movie. The book takes the time to take us on more of an adventure with Pongo and Missus as they look for the puppies and I really enjoyed being along for the ride on that.

Cruella was much more evil in the book which I had mixed feelings about. I think she is a perfect villain for a children's book but she isn't very well rounded as a character. She is just evil. Perhaps to the point of not even being human.

Pongo and Missus were pretty well developed but the puppies weren't. There were only two puppies that really stood out to me. There is Cadpig who is the runt and who is weak and always needing cared for. Then, there is Lucky. He is the biggest strongest of Pongo's pups and he helps his dad lead the puppies to safety. ( )
  authorjanebnight | Apr 11, 2019 |
It feels a bit dated but it is still a great read. My favorite line is when Mrs. Dearly spots her old classmate Cruella De Vil on the street and comments that "she was expelled for drinking ink." ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I loved the narration of this famous tale. I wish Missis wasn't created like she was lesser than Pongo. I also wish there was more of a confrontation with Cruella. But, I enjoyed the storytelling and adventure. I'm curious to see what the next book is about and if it will be even more thrilling. ( )
  AdrianaGarcia | Jul 10, 2018 |
Never read this as a child, which is a pity, I would have liked it. As an adult, I didn't care for the (typical of the era) belittling of the female characters, the manly & endulgent chuckling of the males... I had to check & see if the author was male (not).
But, like many enjoyable stories of old, some of that needs to be taken w/salt. ( )
  kmajort | Feb 9, 2018 |
I saw the 90s film when I was a kid and it did not make a big impression on me, even though I was a dog person and most of my favourite stories were about animals. It's only more recently, ever since I realised the book is by the author of I Capture the Castle, that I've become curious about the book.

It is silly but surprisingly entertaining. I enjoyed the word play, especially the sort which might go sailing over the head of a child, and the funny explanations for dogs’ behaviour, such as the “Twilight barking”. I also liked the illustrations, because dogs.

I don’t know if the dogs’ society is intended to be a parody of a particularly mid-twentieth-century, conservative, British idea of What People Are Like, but it seemed rather tongue-in-cheek to me. After I Capture the Castle, with its insightful portrayal of an unconventional family and its sympathy for the challenges Cassandra and her sister face, it’s hard to imagine that Smith thought people were, or even should be, as conventional as her dogs are. Furthermore, the human characters - and not just Cruella the villain - conform less to traditional gender roles than the dogs do. Nanny Butler decides to be butler in role as well as name - in trousers, with a frilly apron for “a note of originality”. Mr Dearly is the one who ends up in the cupboard, bottle-feeding puppies (while making business phone calls!), and Mrs Dearly is the one who goes out with the car to find a foster mother for the dogs.

So when two male dogs laugh “in a very masculine way” over Missis’ difficulty determining her left paw from her right (she says it’s “one of the front ones”) I wondered if, by giving these sorts of sexist attitudes to dogs, Smith was trying to highlight the ridiculousness of such attitudes, rather than deliberately reinforcing, or even unconsciously reproducing, them. The trouble for a child reader is that they’re very unlikely to pick up on this and instead come away with the idea that, yet again, the girl isn’t as smart as the boys.

… anyway, I wasn’t planning on writing a whole essay about it.

“We'll call her Perdita,” said Mrs. Dearly, and explained to the Nannies that this was after a character in Shakespeare. “She was lost. And the Latin word for lost is ‘perditus’.” Then she patted Pongo, who was looking particularly intelligent, and said anyone would think he understood. And indeed he did. For though he had very little Latin beyond ‘Cave canem’, he had, as a young dog, devoured Shakespeare (in a tasty leather binding). ( )
  Herenya | Feb 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dodie Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dooling, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnstone, Anne GrahameIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnstone, Janet GrahameIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmation dogs named Pongo and Missis Pongo.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for the book by Dodie Smith. It should not be combined with any film adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140340343, Paperback)

The book that inspired the animated movie classic!

When Dearly's Dalmatians have their first litter of pups—fifteen in all—everyone is delighted. But their joy is shortlived, for the pups are kidnapped! Scotland Yard is baffled, but the keenest canine minds are on the case—and on the trail of Cruella de Vil, the most fiendish person to ever covet a fur coat.

Pongo and Missis would give everything they have to bring their puppies safely home... but will they succeed in rescuing them from the cluthes of the evil Cruella de Vil?

"A tale full to overflowing with those prime requisites of a good story—warmth and humor, imagination and suspense."—Chicago Sunday Tribune

"Superb reading. The puzzle of the hundred and one is delightful.... Highly recommended."—SLJ

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Pongo the Dalmatian and his wife Missis undertake a daring expedition to rescue their fifteen puppies from the clutches of the vicious Cruella de Vil.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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