The Starlight Barking (The Hundred and One Dalmatians, #2)

By Dodie Smith, Anne Johnstone

1,351 ratings - 3.68* vote

Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first published in 1956. The Starlight Barking, Dodie's own long-forgotten sequel, is a thrilling new adventure for Pongo and his family. As the story opens, every living creature except dogs is gripped by an enchanted sleep. One of the original Dalmatian puppies, all grown u Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first

... more

Book details

Paperback, 160 pages
April 1st 2003 by Egmont Books Ltd

(first published 1967)

Original Title
The Starlight Barking
ISBN
1405204125 (ISBN13: 9781405204125)

Community Reviews

Ana

Let's get the most important thing out of the way: There is no Cruella. I feel cheated.

At the beginning of this sequel we find Pongo and Missus leaving their home once again so that they and their family can find out why all of the humans are in a sleep coma.

The stakes feel low and I went through 60% of the book without a clue as to what's happening, so the story feels too drawn out so the climax didn't really hit as hard as it could. The Pongo and Missus relationship is still stereotypical 1950s with him being seen as the smart one and she the emotionally connected one. I thought Cadpig would be a more interesting character as the Prime Minister's dog but this was not the case.

I would recommend this book if you're a die hard Dodie Smith fan.

Mike

Ok, no, it's not as good—not nearly—as 101 Dalmations but it's still got the Dodie Smith verve of that book as well as the original characters. The sci-fi premise where an alien canine comes to earth to speak to the dogs of earth may sound odd at best, but this is a kids' book and I think Smith was attempting to connect with the growing interest in sci-fi in the 1960s when she wrote this. Her ability to make the dogs come to life in so loving a manner is still firmly intact in this novel and if anything, what's lacking is a villain of the caliber of Cruella de Vil. (Ms. de Vil is actually in the book, but she sleeps through all the action—you'll have to read the book to understand why.)

For dog lovers, it's a charming book nonetheless and for those who find Smith before Disney made her work a household name to be an interesting author, it's worth reading. While far fewer people would know Smith's adorable canines without Disney, her way with words and early 20th century take on England were nearly wiped from the page once Disney made their 1961 film of 101 Dalmations so I highly recommend reading the original Smith novel to anyone who has not: it's 10x more charming and alluring than Disney's take on the same pups.

Nicky

Dodie Smith's writing is always rather fun, but The Starlight Barking does suffer when taken as a sequel to A Hundred and One Dalmatians. The topic is such a contrast -- instead of the anthropomorphic but somehow believable concept of two dogs going off to find their pups, who have been dognapped to be used to make fur coats, now we have something that is pretty sci-fi-ish in nature, with a Moral snuck in about humans fighting and maybe even trying to destroy the world. It just doesn't really work with the fun and witty first book. The humour in this book is sort of at the dogs' expense, really: laughing at Cadpig and her self-important ways, and the Cabinet of dogs echoing the real Cabinet, and things like that.

I loved it a lot when I was younger, but the mismatch is unbearable somehow now. As an adult, I'd give it two stars, but based on my previous enjoyment, I gave it three. Still, I wouldn't say it's unmissable.

Megan Miller

I mean, it was cute. I never read the first one, but I obviously know the story. I won't be keeping my copy, because I've been trying to get rid of any kid/chapter books I won't want my future kids to read. Not that there's a specific reason for them not to read this. I just didn't feel like it would be particularly edifying or constructive to them. And it was a little weird.
A weird thing that I actually did like about it, was that Pongo and Missis represent a really good picture of marriage. (Lol) She was supportive and submissive while still sharing her opinions and worries, and he was protective and a leader while still listening to her and loving her.
The End.

Kimberly

A few months back I read the first book in this trilogy by Dodie Smith and I loved reading the original tale of the 101 Dalmatians. So when I decided to host the 2013 Pre-1960 Classic Children's Books Reading Challenge I immediately put this one on hold. Unfortunately for me the book was published 7 years too late to qualify for the challenge but I read it anyways.

This book centers around Pongo and Missis, the main characters from the 101 Dalmatians and a few of their pups plus some other beloved characters that appeared in the first book as well as the Walt Disney animated film of the same name. In this book the dogs wake up to a world filled with silence in which canines are the only animals awake, well the dogs, and 3 honorary dogs which include two cats and a young boy named Tommy.

I thought the characters were simply delightful. While the book is written at a bit of a hire level for young children nowadays, we simply forget that children's books used to be written a lot different compared to those we see more often. As I said the characters were delightful and it was lovely to see much of the original cast and to meet some new faces as well which included the dog version of the British parliament.

What I enjoyed most about the novel was the story itself which takes on a bit of a science fiction slant which I was not expecting at all and since I don't want to ruin it for anyone who may read it let me just say that I thought it was rather unique to have that in a child's book about dogs and I think Dodie Smith did a lovely job incorporating the science fiction aspects into her book in a way that wasn't to high brow for children to understand and like. I think the fact that the book offered something different was wonderful.

It's well known that Dodie Smith is a wonderful children's author and this book just adds to her repatoir. I loved the way she created her characters and gave them all different personalities and quirks to go along with them as well and I thought it was one of the most heartwarming novels with a great amount of adventure that I've read in a long and I think this is one along with the preceding book that should be in every child's library.

I would recommend this to anyone who has a child to include this in their child's library. While like I mentioned before it may be a little harder for toddlers to comprehend it would make for the perfect bedtime read for older children.

Taylor

This book is certainly fun, though it lacks the spark that made One-Hundred-and-One Dalmatians great. ((Side note: If you think that story is merely a Disney movie, think again. Go to the library and check it out. It's such a great book and a wonderful read-aloud.))

Dodie Smith certainly spins wonderful tales of the world that dogs inhabit. I am very much looking forward to reading these with Arthur one day soon.

Army of Penguins

A rather poor sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Yes, we get to meet all the charming and slightly eccentric characters of the first book again and yes, the character interaction and silliness is easily on par with the first book, but when it comes to the plot... oh boy. It's a fun book and offers quite a few chuckles, but it quickly made me go "Riiiiiiight..."

*SPOILERS FROM HERE*

First, the obvious plot issues. While the first book was mostly realistic (granting dogs just enough intelligence and skills to coordinate and execute a rescue, which is well within the accepted levels of stories for children), this one has our Dalmatians communicating via telepathy and being able to fly. And then it manages to become even more bizarre as all dogs on Earth are offered the chance to be raptured to space by Sirius, Lord of the Dog Star, who fears that we'll nuke ourselves back into the Stone Age. I wish I was making this up.

Now, this would normally be my kind of book! After all, books like Danny Yates Must Die or the Discworld series also throw a surreal world at the readers, and I loved those.

However, the difference between those books and this one is that here, we have a REALISTIC world that suddenly TURNS surreal, and for the readers to accept that, they need some kind of explanation: Who did this, and how/why? And this is where this book fails to deliver: The initial sense of wonder doesn't last long, and for more than half the book, our characters are wandering around with no real sense of purpose. Then we finally meet Sirius... but instead of exploring this marvelous character any further, the book hurries the plot along, squeezing the revelation, offer, resolution and epilogue into roughly the last third of the not-so-long book.

Beyond the broken pacing, I can't help but notice how the themes are not really what you'd expect from the sequel to 101 Dalmatians. Between possible nuclear war and The Rapture (eternal bliss for all dogs while the rest of the world is left to stumble into possible war), there are also shorter "Wait, what?" moments like Patch being in love with his sister (the love of his life...) and opting for voluntary self-extinction because he doesn't want his imperfect DNA to persist in the genepool.

All in all, this book left me slightly unfulfilled, and it only earned its second star because the characters are just as adorable and lovable as before. I loved the first book, and I loved the surreal plot teaser/summary, but the book just failed to deliver in the plot department. Give me a sequel to 101 Dalmatians or give me a surreal novel with superpowers and aliens, but please don't mix the two.

Katrina

Despite growing up with a deep love for 101 Dalmatians (the book, of course, and the animated Disney film - certainly not the miserable excuse for a live action version), I'd never previously read the sequel. Recently, I picked up a nice first edition in a local bookstore but immediately got discouraged by all the negative reviews I found when I skimmed online. I'm apparently a different sort of audience, because I thought this book was delightful.

It's a departure from the original book in some ways, since it strays into a more metaphysical, science fiction setting, but the themes and writing style hold true to Dodie Smith's other material. If you think about it, it's not as though 101 Dalmatians itself was a particularly realistic or sugar-sweet story: its entire foundation is the idea that a woman - broadly hinted at as not-entirely human - wants to skin a hundred puppies to make herself a spotted coat. It's meant to be a slightly-left-from-center world, where the animals see humans as their pets and maintain entire networks of communication and transportation of which the humans remain blissfully unaware.

The Starlight Barking, then, is actually a pretty appropriate sequel. It takes humans entirely out of the equation by engineering a mysterious event where the only creatures awake for a day are the dogs. It kicks off with a fairly slow start, spending too much time recapping the previous book's events and re-introducing the characters, but it picks up speed and creativity as the dalmatians journey to London and form their animal version of human governmental structure.

There are some less-than-perfect notes, certainly, and I felt Pongo held too much of the spotlight, but Missis and Cadpig were both wonderfully strong characters, with subtly profound dialogue. Dodie Smith has a particular skill for slipping forward-thinking messages into her novels. The ideas here touch on the human obsession with power struggles and the potential for a devastating nuclear war, but it's not an overpowering component of the story. The overarching tale is, essentially, an affirmation of dogs' position as man's best friend. This heartwarming narrative spins off into a more universal understanding of the need to make the most of your time on Earth, and to search for those whom you can love, and who will care for you in turn.

It's not a perfect book, but I think it's certainly a worthy successor to the beloved classic.

Shahrun

I'm rather sorry I bothered with this one. This is a proper weird little book. It’s kind of a bible story - fable type thing and part political moral lesson. Very bizarre. Considering the whole book was magical themed, for me there was no magic or joy in reading it. Rather disappointing as I recently read and enjoyed The Hundred and One Dalmatians. What was the author thinking? Maybe I'm just too old to appreciate it?

Emily

I read this sequel to 101 Dalmations several times in my childhood, and calmly accepted the author's choice to veer into science fiction. As an adult though, I'm less biddable, and find the premise of this book (which I can't describe with being spoiler-ish) just too weird.

Topics