I was given One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson as a Christmas present, and as it says “Age: 8+” on the cover, I guess I’m in the right age range to read it! It’s the story of a young boy, Hal, who every birthday he asks his parents for only one thing, a dog. His father is an international businessman and is hardly at home much, so leaves it up to his mother to look after him, but she refuses to entertain the idea of a dog as it would mess up her smart, fashionable and expensive home. After a disastrous birthday party, the father arranges for Hal to rent a dog from Easy Pets for a weekend, thinking Hal will be fed up with the responsibility by the end of the two days, and anyway, he’ll be on an aeroplane to New York so his mother can deal with taking the dog back to the rental agency. But Hal and his new canine companion, Fleck, immediately fall in love with each other, and neither of his parents told him of this arrangement, so when he finds the dog gone, he becomes sad and withdrawn, as does Fleck back in at the agency. When Hal runs away, he rescues Fleck, and with a few other Easy Pets friends along for the journey, the group embark on an adventure to a place where Hal and Fleck can be together.
This is a book in the vein of a classic style of children’s adventure story, and Eva Ibbotson’s final book before she died last year. Believable characters, selfish parents, good friends, and a rollicking adventure story all make for a fantastic read. I’m not a maternal person, but I can imagine it would be a great experience to read this to children as a bed time story. The animals aren’t anthropomorphised, but each has their own individual character, and their own story and destiny, and the children develop over the duration of the book, and the parents have the opportunity to make changes to their life, learn to adapt and stop being selfish in order to become better parents and rebuild the relationship with their son. All I can add is that, I wish I could have a dog!