The Starlight Barking
by Dodie Smith
The little-known sequel to
The Hundred and One Dalmatians
has been recently reprinted with the original
illustrations. It's a very different story, and some may not find it to their taste, but in it
the same love for dogs, the same gently teasing sense of humor, and the same fanciful view of
reality are evident.
As in Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody,
the Lord of the Dog-Star, Sirius, makes an appearance in this book. This time, his coming is
heralded by a day when almost every living thing that isn't a dog is lost in a pleasant, wakeless
sleep. A day when doors and gates magically open for dogs, and other things they wish for come
true. A day when dogs need neither food nor drink nor sleep, and learn that they can "swoosh"
above the ground at high speed.
On such a day, great decisions need to be made--for dogs, by dogs. And one of the offspring of
the Dearlys' Dalmatians, Pongo and Missis, is in a position to make them. Their beloved pup,
Cadpig, has become the Prime Minister's famous pet. And now, in the absence of anyone else to do
the job, she has become de facto Prime Minister. She needs her parents' help though, and using
the power to communicate in thought-waves, she summons Pongo and Missis to London.
There, with many of their original litter and a variety of other dogs, the Pongos sniff out the
mystery of what is causing this wonderful, weird day. They shake down the usual suspects,
including Cruella de Vil, who has returned to England with a plan to market "clothes that clang."
But as I hinted before, the real source of it all comes from much higher up. And soon every dog
on Earth has to make a dreadful, wonderful choice...
Is this science fiction? Yes and no. Mostly, no, but it's very imaginative, very warm-hearted,
and plenty of fun. And though the political sermon embedded in the story is a little dated in its
details, it still applies--right down to the truth that what every good dog wants and deserves is
a loving human family of its own.
Recommended Age: 12+
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