The 101 Dalmatians
By beloved author and playwright Dodie Smith, this is the original tale of the Dearly’s Dalmatians, Pongo, and Missis, and their fifteen pups stolen for Cruella de Vil’s coat couture. On Pongo and Missis way to rescue their litter from being skinned alive (literally), they meet Perdita and Prince whose puppies have also been pinched. Much more than Disney’s “Kanine Krunchies” jingle, this novel is 101 percent heart and fur.
Because of Winn-Dixie
Disheartened ten-year-old Opal moves to Naomi, Florida, with her father after her mother’s abandonment. She finds a misfit dog at Winn-Dixie supermarket and promptly adopts him. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets new friends and discovers ten things about her absent mother. Because of Winn-Dixie, she learns that she is not defined by her sad past and that finding love begins by giving it. This took home a Newberry Medal for a reason: it’s a winner.
The Incredible Journey
Burnford contends that she wrote this book for adults despite its children’s literature fame. Animal devotion is an ageless theme. In the novel, the Hunter family’s three pets travel three hundred miles through the wilderness searching for their cherished masters who have temporarily gone to England. I’m devoted to stories of man (and man’s best friends) traversing nature’s wilds and coming through triumphant. Isn’t that why we read—to vicariously live incredible journeys?
We all know London’s acclaimed The Call of the Wild, but I argue his White Fang surpasses the original wolf-dog tale. Told from the perspective of White Fang, the novel examines the mirrored violence of the animal and human kingdoms. Set against the treacherous beauty of Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush, the book is an homage to an adventurous corner of history told through the impartial eyes of a savage with a heart of gold.
The Mapmaker's Children
Hot diggity dog! We’re officially in the dog days of summer, aptly named by the Greeks and Romans for the “dog star” Sirius and made famous by Homer’s Iliad: “Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky/On summer nights, star of stars.” While we, mortals, may be sweating buckets, I appreciate the seasonal nod to man’s best friend. There’s a longstanding trend of novelists writing canine companions in their fiction. I’m not above the furry fray. Steinbeck had Charley. Patchett has Sparky. I have Gilly, and my novel The Mapmaker’s Children features a dog named Cricket. If you’re looking for an escape from the heat, take an adventurous romp with these delightful hound novels.
Featured image: Alamy.com