The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (1956)

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

From the 1984 Viking edition of the 1956 novel for young readers, The 101 Dalmatians (originally published as The Hundred and One Dalmatians) by Dodie Smith

Life was good for the Dalmatian couple Pongo and Missis. With the Dearlys to look after them, they lived in a comfortable home in London where they were able to start a remarkably large family.

Their fifteen beautifully spotted Dalmatian puppies became the talk of the town around Regent’s Park. But Cruella de Vil, a neighbor of the Dearlys, plans to cash in on these gems and their lovely coats!

Cruella loves fur coats and wears them even in the warmest weather. When the puppies are stolen from the Dearly home, and even Scotland Yard is unable to find them, Pongo and Missis must lead the search themselves.

Thanks to the help of a few of the keenest brains in dogdom, they discover a clue that takes them across England and straight to the culprit’s lair — dark and frightening Hell Hall, ancestral home of Cruella de Vil.

The 101 Dalmatians, Dodie Smith’s first children’s book, has remained a classic for young and old readers alike. Enter this world of canine adventure and be captivated by what The American Library Association Booklist has called an “irresistible fantasy.”

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Illustration from the 1956 edition of Dodie Smith's The Hundred One Dalmatians - Janet and Anne Grahme-Johnstone

Illustration by Janet and Anne Grahme-Johnstone, from the 1956 edition
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How The 101 Dalmatians begins: The Happy Couples

Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmatian dogs named Pongo and Missis Pongo. (Missis had added Pongo’s name to her own on their marriage, but was still called Missis by most people.)

They were lucky enough to own a young married couple of humans named Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, who were gentle, obedient, and unusually intelligent — almost canine at times. They understood quite a number of barks: the barks for “Out, please!” “In, please!” “Hurry up with my dinner!” and “What about a walk?”

And even when they could not understand, they could often guess — if looked at soulfully or scratched by an eager paw. Like many other much-loved humans, they believed that they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that their dogs owned them. Pongo and Missis found this touching and amusing and let their pets think it was true …

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The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

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