Hairy Maclary: Scattercat – Lynley Dodd

More in the Series – Hairy Maclary
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

cover

I’ve said before that the genius of Lynley Dodd is how she makes it look easy. Her words and rhyme are so perfectly constructed that you find yourself thinking there is no other way they could go, and therefore this kind of verse must be easy. The text trips lightly across the page, seeming effortless.

As someone who occasionally writes this kind of thing, it is certainly not effortless. Dodd is kind of a genius. 🙂

This book doesn’t really pass any of our metrics – the characters are all dogs and cats so you can’t really talk about diversity. Some of the cats are female, but there’s no dialogue. It’s just a simple romp of Hairy Maclary chasing all the cats in the neighbourhood until he comes up against one who is scarier than he is.

It’s charming as hell, you guys, and if you still haven’t read a Hairy Maclary book (probably because you don’t live in New Zealand), they are definitely very worth getting your mitts on and reading with your kids. They’re somehow very Kiwi and still completely universal, which is quite a thing to pull off.

This is children’s lit at its best. 🙂 C loves them, they’re fun to read, and I marvel at the brilliantly constructed rhyme schemes. Good stuff.

Hairy Maclary’s Bone – Lynley Dodd

More in the Series – Hairy Maclary
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 points

I have a real love for the Hairy Maclary books. I wasn’t born a Kiwi, but I’ve lived here for, good god NINE YEARS now, and so I feel a certain amount of pride that these incredibly simple, deft books came out of NZ. They really master the art of being local while still being internationally relevant (I can’t imagine anyone not developing a fondness for Hairy Maclary and his compatriots.

There are no female characters at all in this book, as far as we can tell, anyway. There is also no real sign of diversity (unless you count diversity of dog breeds, which, no, not really). But the issue is a bit kind of adjacent given that all the major characters are animals, and the humans that do exist do so in a Schultzesque “legs and arms only” manner.

In this tale, Hairy Maclary receives a bone form the butcher and takes it home. He is followed by all the neighbourhood dogs who have a mind to “share” it with him, but as he goes he manages to lose them one by one by choosing a route home that proves too narrow, high, athletic and so on for each of them.

Like all these books, the rhyme is deft and simple. Lynley Dodd has a knack for making it look easy, which is the sign of a true linguistic artist. As someone who has read a lot of kids books where the rhymes have been forced to conform, twisted and shoved into place, Dodd’s nimble, elegant words are a pleasure.

C loves these books as much as I do. They are always fun to read (and reread!) and the protagonist is extremely lovable. Not high scorers by our metrics, but well worth the read anyway. 🙂

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd

POINTS: 4 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 2 points.

This is a very Hairy Maclary friendly household. This is a book we’ve been reading for about as long as C has been alive (along with a couple of the pothers that I got cheap off Trademe at some point).

There is no dialogue (and there are no obviously female characters, though I suppose Muffin McLay might be a girl) so it can’t pass the Bechdel, and similarly, all the characters are animals, so there’s no way it can get the diversity point either.

Still, though, this is a little masterpiece. There is a good reason these books have become as popular as they have. Dodd has an ability to get every single word in her rhyming text absolutely perfect, and make it look easy – which, believe me, when you’ve read as many kids’ books as I have, is no easy feat.

The text trips along lightly like it’s being made up on the spot, and the illustrations are totally marvellous. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a fan of animals in kids’ books that act like animals, and these do. She also manages to give them all very real personalities with just a few words and great pictures.

C loves this book, and can pretty much recite it right along with me. I have never gotten bored of reading it, which may be one of the best things that can ever be said for a book aimed at pre-reading-age kids. And if you don’t love doing the Scarface Claw “EEEEEEOWWWFFTZ!”, you have no soul. ;P

One of the greats for a reason.