Hairy Maclary is a fictional dog, the hero of a series of children's picture books created by the New Zealand author Dame Lynley Dodd, and making his first appearance in 1983 with the publication of Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy. Hairy Maclary is the protagonist of twelve books in the series, and a further nine are about his friends. The series has sold over five million copies worldwide. His adventures are usually in the company of his other animal friends who include the dachshund Schnitzel von Krumm, dalmatian Bottomley Potts and Old English sheepdog Muffin McClay. The tomcat Scarface Claw is their formidable opponent. Lynley Dodd has not stated what breed of dog Hairy Maclary is, but he has characteristics of a small terrier.
The Hairy Maclary books are picture books that are designed to be shared by an adult reader and a young child. The plots are simple, in keeping with the comprehension of the pre-reading age group for which they are ranged. They generally involve Hairy and his friends in adventurous scenarios pitched against local cats, often with an implication that the cats are more cunning. The animals in this series, unlike the creatures of Beatrix Potter's stories, are not given human thoughts and motives. Their actions tell the stories, and reflect their animal natures.
Each double page has a picture on one side, and writing on the other. The pictures and the written words combine to tell the story, with much anecdotal material appearing within the pictures that is not described in the text. The books have a wide format which enables a child seated beside an adult to have a full view of the picture page while the adult reads.
The text is written in rhythmic verse that flows easily and has simple rhymes like "Bottomley Potts covered in spots, Hercules Morse as big as a horse". Characters, events and therefore language are repetitive and cumulative, after the manner of "Old MacDonald had a farm". Each book contains a twist or some sort of conclusion at the end. The repetitions permit a young child to anticipate what is coming next, and repeat the words.
"Schnitzel von Krumm
with a very low tum,
all skinny and bony,
like a bundle of hay,
covered in spots,
as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson's Dairy"
Although the books are designed to entertain young children, they are not intended as "early readers", as are, for example, the "Cat in the Hat" books by Doctor Seuss which have a very basic and largely phonic vocabulary. The Hairy Maclary books, despite their simple stories, introduce the listening child to some long but very expressive words which are not part of the average pre-schooler vocabulary, but must be understood by the child in the context in which they occur. For example, the noise made by a stranded cat and the excited dogs who discover it is described as a "cacophony".
Lynley Dodd's illustrations are closely observed from life. The breeds of dogs, the types of houses and the plants growing in each garden can generally be identified. The stories seem to exist in a real suburb in the real world. Hairy Maclary's home, for example, has a red corrugated iron roof supported on wooden brackets, and the garden has a frangipani tree, a picket fence and a row of agapanthus. Each picture promotes investigation and discussion between the child and the reader, as events unfold in the pictures which are not described in the text. In the first book of the series the repeated lines "...and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy" accompany a series of illustrations showing Hairy Maclary sniffing the bottom of a lamp-post, burrowing into a hedge, barking at some birds and raiding a garbage can. Close observation is encouraged by the inclusion in many of the pictures of a tiny glimpse of the dog who has been named on the previous page, as it approaches or walks out of the picture, showing only the point of a nose or the tip of a tail.
Books in the series
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy (1983)
- Hairy Maclary's Bone (1984)
- Hairy Maclary Scattercat (1985)
- Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper (1987)
- Hairy Maclary's Rumpus at the Vet (1989)
- Slinky Malinki (1990)
- Hairy Maclary's Showbusiness (1991)
- Slinky Malinki Open The Door (1993)
- Schnitzel von Krumm’s Basketwork (1994)
- Schnitzel von Krumm Forget-Me-Not (1996)
- Hairy Maclary, Sit (1997)
- Slinky Malinki Catflaps (1998)
- Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack (1999)
- Schnitzel von Krumm, Dogs Never Climb Trees (2002)
- Scarface Claw (2003)
- Zachary Quack Minimonster (2005)
- Slinky Malinki's Christmas Crackers (2006)
- Hairy Maclary's Hat Tricks (2007)
- Hairy Maclary, Shoo (2009)
- Slinki Malinki Early Bird (2012)
- Fiona Terry (2008-08-08). "Times Online: Interview with Lynley Dodd". London: Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 2009-05-05.