Friday, January 02, 2009

The Starlight Barking

The Starlight Barking
By Dodie Smith
Publisher: Egmont
First published on 1967;
This edition 2006
ISBN-13: 9781405224819
224 pages

First sentence: Not long ago there lived in Suffolk a hundred and one Dalmations whose adventures had once thrilled all the dogs of England.

The Starlight Barking is the delightful sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmations featuring, once again, the famous Pongo and Missis who had rescued their puppies and the other Dalmations from the evil clutches of Cruella de Vil. This time, something mysterious is brewing at 'Hell Hall' where all the Dalmations (now grown up dogs) are living with their dear Mr and Mrs Dearly. Later, they discover that the strangeness affects all the dogs in the world. In this story, one of Pongo and Missis' daughter, Cadpig, is a very important dog in England. She is now the Prime Minister's pet.

Now, something strange has happened. When the Dalmations wake up from their sleep, they discover that their humans are unwakeable. All around it is very quiet; even the birds are not chirping. Everything else except the dogs are in their slumber. Another strange thing is that the canines are not hungry or thirsty. Pongo and Missis discover that they could 'swoosh' around and do things with their minds. "You must imagine yourself swooshing and then you will swoosh." Things get metaphysical. Then Cadpig, not knowing what is happening, contacts her parents through thought waves and they are to meet with her in Downing Street where she lives. Pongo and Missis gather an army of fifty Dalmations, and together they swoosh to meet with Cadpig. Along the way, they pick up more dogs to join their entourage.

The mystery slowly unveils at the Trafalgar Square where all the dogs gather and Pongo must make an important decision. Does Cruella have anything to do with this?

It is really heartwarming to read how Ponggo takes good care of Missis and his love for her is real. Pongo and Missis make a great team because Pongo is wise and Missis is intuitive. Both of them are ever so considerate of each other's feelings. All the other dogs cooperate and work together in their effort to swoosh to their destination. In the end, the dogs are given a choice to decide the world they want to live in and where their loyalties lie.

I really enjoyed reading it and all in one sitting. What a fun way to usher in the year 2009. Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book, which I found to be very fitting for the new year:

The question is, what are we ready for? But if we knew that, wouldn't the adventure be more ordinary? Isn't it more exciting not to know what lies ahead? Let us live excitingly from minute to minute and let us count our blessings. (p.81)

Have you read The Starlight Barking?