Middle Grade Monday : The One Hundred and One Dalmatians

For this week’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday I’m remembering a book I read over and over as a child – The One Hundred and One Dalmatians  by Dodie Smith.

Now I’ve got nothing against either the Disney animated version of this story or the live action one, although the series of sequels is getting a bit tiresome. However, the re-branding of 101 Dalmatians has all but made this original source disappear and that’s a great shame. I loved this book as a kid. It’s very old fashioned I now realize, but still presents a true adventure story, a real road movie with a married couple of dogs as the heroes. CUTE!

This book would probably never be published today – it includes talking animals for one thing. The main character, although a dog, is an adult, which is very rarely seen in books for young readers. But what could be a more moving adventure than a couple of new parents going on a dangerous mission to rescue their children from death?

Here’s a quick summary:

When the Dearly’s dalmatians have their first litter of puppies-fifteen in all-everyone is delighted. But their joy is shattered when the pups are kidnapped! The humans don’t have a clue as to who the culprit is, but the trail of the fur-loving Cruella de Vil, who will stop at nothing to have a Dalmatian fur coat!

The plots of the movies generally follow the book but there is so much more in this telling.  It’s much darker and quite scary. And there are so many other characters, mostly animals. There is humour, suspense, mystery and heroism. There are also some lovely emotional scenes. I used to cry when I read it!

I think it’s time this book came back into its own, without reference to the movies. It’s a wonderful book, especially for younger MG readers. Not too long, at 44347 words, it has a reading level of about grade five, so would suit confident readers 8 and up.

For this week’s I can’t wait to read I’m going with Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver. I read a free chapter online and now I’m desperate to get my hands on this to read the whole thing. I was a bit disappointed by DELIRIUM so I’m excited that this one seems to be more my cup of tea. Time to hit the bookstore, AGAIN?

Other Marvelous Middle Grade Mondayers can be found here:

10 thoughts on “Middle Grade Monday : The One Hundred and One Dalmatians

  1. Interesting point that it may not be published in today’s climate. And I never really stopped to consider the adult perspective. I blogged today about a book with talking animal characters (and how they don’t usually strike me as my favorites), but with the right story, I do love certain ones.

  2. I’ve never read this book! Now you’re making me want to read it. Interesting that it’s much darker when it’s not Disney-fied.

    So glad to hear that someone else was a bit disappointed by DELIRIUM. But you’ll love LIESL & PO.

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