Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Hairy MacLary!

A childhood growing up in New Zealand would not be complete without Hairy MacLary, the mischievous terrier from Donaldson's Dairy who has enchanted kiwi kids for twenty five years.

Lynley Dodd's most loved creation celebrates his quarter century birthday this week and the little fella along with his friends including Schnitzel von Krumm with the very low tum, Bottomley Potts covered in spots and Muffin McClay, like a bundle of hay have starred in eleven titles so far. The latest, Hairy MacLary Hat Tricks, was released in August last year after an eight year hiatus.

Dodd, who writes as well as illustrates her stories, says there is no real Hairy MacLary. Rather "He is a mixture of terriers I've known, with rather thin legs and small, sharp triangles for ears. An imaginary dog."

The first story released in 1983 which started the Hairy MacLary publishing phenomena that has seen over 2 million titles sold, has spawned all manner of merchandise for his fans old and young alike. These range from soft toys, wallpaper friezes, jigsaw puzzles, colouring and sticker books, to a DVD series narrated by one of New Zealand's best loved actresses Miranda Harcourt.

Dodd who was was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to children's literature in 2002, has also written many successful spin off stories around Hairy's friends and his arch enemies, the cats in his neighbourhood including Scarface Claw, the toughest Tom in town.



I can still remember the very first Lynley Dodd book I was given as a child. I was six years old and had been away from school for some weeks with illness. Boredom was setting in and I was beginning to drive my mother batty so she made a special trip to town (quite an effort from where we lived in rural Manawatu) and purchased me a swathe of books including "Wake Up Bear" It is the story of Bear who has been hibernating for winter but who has failed to wake up with the arrival of spring. All his friends including goat, snake and elephant try their best to wake him up but Bear just keeps on snoring. Engrained in my memory forever is the last line of the book when Bear hears Bee buzz passed his head: "'Honey?!' said Bear, and he woke up."

As an auntie to two delightful boys and one gorgeous girl, I have had the pleasure of reading (many times!) the charming tales of Hairy and his friends capers and watching the DVDs and I, along with the kids, never grow tired of them. Dodd is a genius at creating stories with captivating rhymes accompanied by soft illustrations which thoroughly engage their young readers/listeners. I know they will be a staple of bed time stories around the country for many years to come.

Happy Birthday Hairy MacLary from this long time (now grown up but still loyal and loving) fan.

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