I was looking for a quick listen this morning, and I keep a stockpile of such audiobooks in my library for just such moments. It just so happened I was feeling a bit nostalgic too. It’s been a dog’s age (no pun intended) since I last read this book. As a kid, it was one of my favorites, owing in part to being the basis for the first Disney animated film I ever saw on the big screen. In the days before home video, we were reliant upon TV and theater revivals to bring us older films. The Wonderful World of Disney was a weekly thing for me, every Sunday evening. But to see quality animation on a big screen… well, that’s the sort of thing that changes lives for those with artistic inclinations. After seeing the movie, I discovered the book by accident when it was made available to buy at a school book fair. The rest is history. I’ve still got my well-worn paperback, complete with “show notes” for once scene from that time in 7th grade when we each in turn had to do a short dramatic reading for the class. *ahem* Anyway…
If you’ve seen the movie, either the animated or the live action version, then you already have a handle on the plot. Cruella de Vil steals Dalmatian puppies with intent of turning them into a fur coat. Adventure ensues as the adult dogs mount their rescue.
If you’ve only seen a movie version, you might be surprised by some of the liberties taken in the name of streamlining. For example, there are not two adult dogs, but three: Pongo, Mrs. Pongo (or Missis), and Perdita, a liver-spotted Dalmatian. Missus and Perdita were combined into a single character for the film. And Sergeant Tibbs is female in this original version a Lieutenant nicknamed Tib, and her real name is Pussy Willow. Accordingly, there are some plot details that aren’t beat for beat either, but on the whole the film versions are fairly loyal translations in terms of keeping the spirit of intent.
Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or maybe it’s just that Disney helped to keep my kid at heart alive and well after all these years, but this book is still as much fun as I remember. I equate it to Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear in the writing style, and maybe that’s part of the selling point for me. Some things remain classics for all the right reasons.