Smith, Dodie, Bently, Peter and Lenton, Steven: The Hundred and One Dalmatians.
Smith, Dodie, Bently, Peter and Lenton, Steven
The Hundred and One Dalmatians
Egmont, 2017, pp32, 6.99 [pounds sterling]
978 1 4052 8166 9
Surprisingly this is the first time Dodie Smith's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which was written in 1956, has been adapted as a picture book and from the start it's clear that both author and illustrator really relished this opportunity. It's a riot of little spotty puppies gambolling over the pages--they really are everywhere and each one looks distinctly different. As the story unfolds of unhappy Dalmatian couple Pongo and Missus searching for their dognapped offspring, they are confronted with the challenge of how to get them back and also rescue all the other stolen puppies before all are turned into a fur coat for the evil Cruella de Vil. This most famous of arch baddies is brilliantly drawn with malevolent eyes and a cruel expression and it's very apt that it is this gaze that dominates the front cover amidst a sea of fur and anxious looking dogs.
With the help of canine friends via the wonderfully depicted dog telegraph system, the brave rescue attempt succeeds. Humorous visual jokes abound including the kidnappers watching television surrounded by puppies with Dalmatians on top of the television and even perched on one baddies head. Children reading this on their own will linger on every page as there is so much to see, but it would also be a joy to share with a group. Despite the darker elements of the story which aren't avoided, this vibrant and charming picture book offers a new telling of a classic story and will appeal across a wide age range.