It has been many years since I read 'The Hundred and One Dalmatians or the Great Dog Robbery' by Dodie Smith. I have watched the Disney version many times-and enjoy it- but as usual, much of the original story is lost in the Disney-fying.
To fit a story of about 300 pages into a 32 page picture book is no mean feat, yet Peter Bently has managed to capture the essence of the original perfectly in this re-telling of the classic. The reader is introduced to Pongo and Missis who live with the Dearly's in a house on the Outer Circle of Regent's Park. Cadpig is the smallest pup (who needs the toy cart to escape in) and Saul and Jasper are the television-watching Badduns.
Cruella's cat (although not a white Persian!) also appears in the illustrations, escaping the cruelty of her mistress's fixation with fur- although the end paper does show her offering a cracker of peace!
Peter Bently's text is simple, yet well written, conveying the atmosphere and charm of the original well, yet simplifying the plot as needed for this format.
While the Dearlys were asleep, Pongo and Missis slipped silently from the house. The ran through the freezing streets and out into the countryside. On and on they went, through sleeping villages and frosty fields.
The illustrations are absolutely amazing. Somehow Steven Lenton has managed to make each dog look different (and give them personality!), particularly in the rather wonderful final spread. I am that sad person who has tried to count the dogs - and get a different number each time- and am sure there must really be 101 Dalmatians there!
Mr and Mrs Dearly look just right- real dog-lovers with glasses askew and messy hair, searching for their beloved pets whilst Cruella looks wicked...but still wears a dressing gown covered in sheep and sheep slippers!
This is a delightful introduction to Dodie Smith's doggie classic, perfect for sharing and enjoying time and time again!
The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, adapted by Peter Bently,
illustrated by Steven Lenton
Egmont ISBN: 978-1405281669