One Dog And His Boy by Eva Ibbotson and Sharon Rentta
|One Dog And His Boy by Eva Ibbotson and Sharon Rentta|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The last and possibl the greatest Eva Ibbotson book - suitable for the eight plus age group and dog lovers of any age. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Ye|
|Pages: 288||Date: May 2011|
|Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books|
All Hal had ever wanted was a dog. Other presents never mattered, expensive though they were: he wanted a dog. But – his mother wouldn't entertain the idea. She was far too busy (shopping) and neurotic about the possibility of dirt, puddles or hairs. His father was busy too. He worked hard to fund their lavish lifestyle and was away so much that he spent more time in the air than he did at home. It wasn't as though Hal had many friends either. He'd just been moved from a school where he had friends (because he wasn't doing well enough) to another where he'd made no friends. All he wanted was a dog.
And then his parents discovered Easy Pets. You went to Easy Pets and hired a dog for a couple of hours or up to a weekend. All the dogs there were well-bred pedigree pooches but the kennel maid had managed to sneak in a stray she found by telling the Easy Pet bosses that the stray was a Tottenham Terrier – a new and rare breed which would soon become very popular. Fleck was actually a mongrel, but Easy Pets didn't do mongrels so he had to become a Tottenham Terrier if he was to escape the dog warden. Hal's father had forgotten the boy's birthday so he took him along to Easy Pets to choose a dog and Hal and Fleck fell in love. Hal thought that Fleck was his forever and was devastated when the dog was returned to Easy Pets.
So, what does a boy do in that situation? Well, he grabs Fleck from his cage and runs away with the intention of getting to his grandparents in Northumberland. And the kennel maid lets four other dogs out – and they follow Hal and Fleck.
Eva Ibbotson is always a delicious treat but unfortunately this will be the last book as she died in October 2010. One Dog And His Boy may well be one of her best books and I'm sure that it's destined to become one of those timeless classics which will be passed down from generation to generation. I think the story was crafted rather than written; the plot hangs together perfectly and the writing is exquisite. The story is pitched at the eight plus age group – but you can assume that the 'plus' goes up to 108. Eva Ibbotson never patronises her readers, hence her universal appeal.
The characters are wonderful. I loved Hal and I lost count of the number of times that I was on the verge of tears over what happened to him and then laughing out loud at what happened next. The dogs are great characters – all individuals with their own personalities without losing their essential dogginess. They might have words put into their mouths but they are always wonderful dogs. Hal's parents are brilliant – you dislike them so much that they're just this side of caricatures but they're always utterly believable.
I was on the edge of my seat towards the end of the book as the gang of two- and four-legged friends make their way towards the Northumberland coast. An adult might see that there are just too many coincidences in the way that everything works out so well but no child is going to care about that at all. They'll just read the glorious story about what is important in life.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres – although this book is aimed at adults it's suitable for teens. Confident readers will also enjoy Take Me Home: Tales of Battersea Dogs by Melissa Wareham.
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