One Dog and His Boy

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One Dog and His Boy
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
March 01, 2012
ISBN
978-0545351966
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All Hal had ever wanted was a dog. "Never!" cries his mother. "Think of the mess, the scratch-marks, the puddles on the floor." But on the morning of Hal's 10th birthday, the unbelievable happens. He's allowed to choose a dog at Easy Pets, a rent-a-pet agency (a fact his parents keep from him). The moment he sees the odd-looking terrier, he knows he's found a friend for life. But no one tells Hal that Fleck must be returned. When Hal wakes up on Monday morning, Fleck is gone. If dog and boy are to stay together they'll have to run away. . . . From the reknowned Eva Ibbotson comes her final novel, a tale laced with humor and brimming over with heart, stunning in its beauty of the love of all things dog.

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A Sweet Friendship
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
For all ten years of his life, all Hal has wanted is a dog. He has begged his wealthy, neglectful parents, but they will buy him anything except the gift of his dreams. When they finally let him get Fleck, they don't mention that he will have to be returned to the dog rental company in three days. This event devastates both, but motivates Hal to rescue Fleck and a crew of other lovable dogs. Along with a spunky girl named Pippa who lies surprisingly easily, the group travels through England and manages to find the perfect home for each character.

I was hesitant going into ONE DOG AND HIS BOY. I'm allergic to dogs, so have never understood the devotion that they inspire in their owners. My parents recently adopted a rescue dog and are obsessed, listening to Cesar Milan audiobooks and spending every spare moment at the dog park. They will relate completely to Hal, and his feeling that "He'd wanted it and wanted it and when it happened it was even better than he'd thought it would be. He'd imagined some of it--the companionship and warmth--but he didn't realize a dog would make you laugh so much, nor that he would help you make so many friends." In spite of my reluctance to read a "dog book", I was charmed by ONE DOG AND HIS BOY, Eva Ibbotson's final novel. It brought me back to the books that I read as a child, full of quirky adventures and happy endings.

Ibbotson's characterization of adults is particularly entertaining. There is no gray area for adults in this book: they are either caricatures of vices or idealized, complete with seaside cottages. I was frequently reminded of the adults in Roald Dahl's books, especially in the character of Albina Fenton, Hal's mother. She spends her days shopping with her friends, an interchangeable trio who all have names that start with the letter G. Any semblance to Roald Dahl instantly improves a book, in my opinion.

Middle grade readers are always desperate for animal books and will love ONE DOG AND HIS BOY. The dogs' personalities and the sweet friendship between Hal and Pippa will linger with readers long after they put the book aside.
Good Points
The dogs all have distinct personalities and taught me about the breeds.
The adult characters were humorously over the top.
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Heartwarming tale
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4.0
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4.0
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This heartwarming tale is based on a classic premise, that a love between a boy and his pet can make up for all of those misunderstood times in a short life.

The conditional love he gets at home from his parents makes Hal hanker after a dog, something of his own that will love him unconditionally. When he gets Fleck for his birthday, it is everything he imagined and more. Unfortunately his thoughtless parents had forgotten to tell Hal that Fleck is a rental dog and will only be staying for the weekend. When Fleck goes back to the shop, Hal is brokenhearted, which sets him on a course to rescue Fleck and never be parted again.

This adventure pairs him with the worldly Pippa who has been working with the dogs at the shop, and together they move from town to town trying to keep Fleck and the other dogs safe. They meet a multitude of interesting characters along the way, never guessing the havoc they have left behind them at home.

The characters in the book are well written, endearing and fun, or evil and scheming. Even the dogs have very individual characters. I would recommend this book for an old school, touching story, always with an eye on a happy ending.
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