It’s time to open Door Number 2 to see the latest gift from Childtastic Books!
Image courtesy of dotty wren studio
When I heard that Peter Bently was going to adapt Dodie Smith’s classic tale The Hundred and One Dalmations into a picture book, I was super-excited. I love the humour in Bently’s books and his storytelling is full of fun and paciness (I had to look that up to see if it was actually a word!). His collaboration with artist Steven Lenton does not disappoint in this beautifully reimagined children’s classic, published by Egmont.
There probably aren’t many people who are unfamiliar with the story but here’s a quick recap. Dalmation married couple Pongo and Missis live in domestic bliss with the human married couple the Dearlys. One day, Missis announces that she and Pongo are going to be parents and shortly produces an impressive litter. Local nasty Cruella de Vil hears about these gorgeous babies and turns up to offer a princely sum to purchase them. The Dearlys refuse and Cruella slinks off with an evil plan up her own furry coat sleeve. The Dalmation puppies are pup-napped and Pongo and Missis set out to rescue them.
When I announced to the children in school that we were reading this tale, they couldn’t sit still with excitement. Famous story + puppies = what’s not to like? They sat with quiet expectation as I read the story and showed them Lenton’s gorgeous illustrations – bold and full of depth, with contrasting creams and whites and dark reds and blacks, following the dalmation theme.
Peter Bently cleverly manages to capture the most important plot points of the story into the much shorter space of a picture book, introducing a level of suspense and peril that young children can cope with. Cruella’s minions are portrayed more as bumbling, lazy fools than evil co-conspirators and Cruella – while she does make a few appearances – doesn’t overwhelm the story with ‘cruella-ty’. And how Steven Lenton manages to infuse 101 dalmations with their own unique characters just blows my mind and made the children coo with delight!
The story ends with a particularly charming Christmas image which makes this the perfect present for this time of year. And with this in mind, I decided to base our library’s annual Christmas display on the double-page spread. Enlisting the help of all the children in the school, we set to work creating 101 dalmations to go up on the board … and this is the result:
(Please excuse the rather dim lighting – not sure what happened to my camera! And also the electrics box in the top left corner!)
We had some fab drawings by all the children (some of whom said drawing dalmations was the most fun they’d had in the library!). These are a few of the wonderful submissions:
I love how the dalmation is celebrating the capture of one of the crooks in the first picture! In the second (top right) we have Cruella (lovely detail) with a worried dalmation. And in the third (bottom right) is a dalmation with ‘101’ as its spots.
We hope you enjoy The Hundred and One Dalmations as much as we did!
* I shamelessly borrowed ‘dalmazing’ from Steven Lenton – sorry Steven!