The Hundred and One Dalmatians is a novel mainly about diverse dogs and their equally diverse “owners.” Dodie Smith also shares her imaginative account of hypothetical canine inter-communication and mentality in her story.
A couple living in London, Mr. and Mrs. Dearly are the proud and understanding owners of two intelligent Dalmatians named Pongo and Missis. Accompanied by Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler, the two dogs and their “pets,” a.k.a. their owners, live in a safe, comfortable environment which is shattered by the intrusion of their antagonist, the strange Cruella de Vil. The loyal comradeship among dogs is contrasted by the striking human traits that the author has given to her canine characters. The familial love between the Dearlys and the Pongos is pleasantly idealistic, while the distinction of love versus hatred for animals is evident through Smith’s many examples, especially de Vil’s fur business.
However, not even the mysterious kidnapping of the Pongos’ puppies in the story helps to lift the monotonous atmosphere. The author’s ideas are creative, but her writing style limits this novel to the original audience she intended it for, young children and their receptive imaginations. The sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmatians is The Starlight Barking.
Original review: The novel that inspired Walt Disney’s films, Examiner.com