NZ Book Month – Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

hairymaclaryHairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy,* written and illustrated by Lynley Dodd

By popular, or maybe not so popular, request.

A rollick about a shaggy Skye terrier, and his five doggy friends, who set off for a walk together. There’s lots of repetition and rhyme, and everything bounces along very happily until Hairy Maclary and his mates meet:

Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town.

Scarface Claw greets the dogs with the most appalling “EEEEEOWWWFFTZ!” I got better and better at the scary cat noises as the years went by, until the girls and I started to worry our own pussy, not to mention their dad. In the story, the dogs are all terrified, and they race home.

That’s all there is to the story. It’s very short, just 250 or so words, but it’s just the right length for littlies, and very satisfying. The illustrations are excellent. Like good portraits, they are not strictly accurate, but they seem to capture the essence of each of the dog types, and they have a vivid sense of motion. This book has was well-loved in our house; we went through several copies. And along with several hundred thousand other parents in New Zealand, I know this book by heart.

*For my non-New Zealand readers, a dairy is a small corner store, selling milk and bread and snack food and some grocery items.


NZBMsmlI’m taking up Ele’s challenge, and blogging a book a day in October, which is New Zealand Book Month. All the books are by New Zealand authors.


13 comments on “NZ Book Month – Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

  1. homepaddock says:

    Out of the gate and . . .

    It was a favourite in our house and still is a favourite with my young Aussie nieces.

  2. Carol says:

    This book was a favourite with us too. It’s quite an achievement to embed characters so firmly in the NZ collective consciousness – I can’t offhand think of any other NZ children’s authors who’ve succeeded in doing this so well.

    I feel churlish even mentioning this now :-), but IMHO Dodd comes a little close to tweeness at times, particularly when she revisits the same formula.

    • Deborah says:

      I think that some of the other books aren’t so successful, and some of them seem to be driven by the need to publish a book, rather than because she had a good story. But this original one was excellent. There’s several more that I like very much, and that I will write about over the next few days.

  3. […] at In A Strange Land, Deborah delights in Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, written and illustrated by Lynley […]

  4. stef says:

    I remember reading that book to my baby brother.

  5. mimbles says:

    Doing the cat noises is the best bit, used to freak out our cat too 🙂

  6. Pen says:

    And it bears many repetitions, unlike some.

  7. Demelza says:

    I love this book, my kids love it and its amazing how well its in the minds of most Kiwis esp those under 30.

  8. suze says:

    As an Australian mother, I also know this book very well – and love it (we also loved her book The Nicklenackel Tree – if that’s the correct title) but I didn’t realise that a dairy was a shop, I’d assumed it was a dairy! (As in, place cows are milked.)

    • Deborah says:

      The Nicklenackel Tree – if that’s the correct title

      Indeed it is. Yes, Lynley Dodd’s books are not obviously New Zealand books, but I’ve got some that I plan to write about that are very much NZ books.

  9. Azlemed says:

    I like Mary Scotts books about postwar back blocks NZ, they arent very well known though, but have an interesting insight into farming women from that period.

  10. ThirdCat says:

    I agree that some of the others aren’t as successful, but my, this is a great book…for a long time, we had to skip quickly past scarface claw

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