Pros:wonderfully detailed illustrations, familiar characters, counting practice
Cons:most of the pups are very easy to find
The Bottom Line: Count to 101 with Pongo and Perdita.
I’ve been a fan of Disney’s animated classic 101 Dalmatians as long as I can remember, and my affection for the film increased with the release of the live action movie and the fervor surrounding the attempts to collect every last one of the McDonald’s tie-in toys. I still have a sweatshirt that I got for Christmas back then, and with the red fabric and the spotted white puppy situated in the middle, it’s quite festive-looking. I’m very happy to associate myself with these pups, as is my brother, who was seven when the remake hit theaters and dressed as a Dalmatian for Halloween. I suspect that many kids, like him, became obsessed with the original after watching the 1996 version.
Recommend this product?
However they came to be fans of the movie, young Dalmatian lovers are the intended readers of 101 Dalmatians: A Counting Book. In this oversized picture book written by Fran Manushkin and Russell Hicks, every last one of the Dalmatian puppies in Pongo and Perdita’s care goes missing after they hear a fire truck while out for a walk and scatter in alarm and curiosity. I always thought that it would be hard to keep track of so many puppies, but this is a bit much! However, it sets up the fun to follow, as the ten pages after this point take Pongo and Perdita to distinct areas within the city to search for their missing pups. At every stop, ten – or, in the case of the last setting, nine – puppies lurk in the general area. It’s up to the reader to find them so that the adult dogs can progress with their search.
This book reminds me of the Where’s Waldo? books, though pointing out the puppies is much easier here. The puppies are bigger, there are more of them, and the pictures are less cluttered. Nonetheless, every page includes a puppy or two that is somewhat out of plain sight, so this should provide enough of a challenge for children around kindergarten age. What’s more, it offers counting practice, as the book encourages kids to count the puppies, starting with 1 through 10 and concluding with 90 through 99. Meanwhile, kids who can’t get enough of numbers can try their hands at counting up all 101 Dalmatians featured in the book’s final two-page spread, which is no easy task, though it is certainly one Sesame Street’s Count would relish.
The interactivity of this book is one aspect that makes it so fun. Another is the attention to setting. Several of the locations, like Cruella DeVil’s rickety mansion and the barn where the puppies once sought refuge, are lifted directly from the movie. Others, like the orchestral concert and the county fair, lack a direct connection to the movie but look as though they would fit seamlessly into the overall landscape. In addition to the half-hidden pups, some of the pictures include misleading drawings like a speckled pig and a man with black splotches on his white suit. Finally, the last page of the book lists trivia involving the original movie. Did you know, for instance, that the film includes 6,469,952 animated spots? Wild!
The rich detail and old-fashioned look of these illustrations make them a joy to study, and while the focus is definitely on the pictures, the writing is simple and appealing enough and anchored by the counting instructions at the bottom of most pages. As a seek and find, an opportunity to practice counting and an invitation to immersion in a beloved fictional world, 101 Dalmatians: A Counting Book is a book whose charm is not hard to spot.
This review is a part of the All Things Disney Write-Off.