Hal’s parents are rich and shower their son with gifts, but all Hal really wants is a dog to love and care for. His mother is appalled by such an idea, as she cannot stand dirt. Then one day Mr and Mrs Fenton hear about Easy Pets Dog Agency and they realise that they can hire a dog for a weekend. They are certain that Hal will not enjoy the reality of dog ownership, but the opposite happens with Hal and Fleck (the chosen canine) quickly becoming inseparable. Happiness however turns to devastation, when Hal learns the dog is not really his. Hal decides there is only one course of action to take, he will kidnap Fleck and run away. An adventure across the countryside ensues, with the pair being joined on their journey by a friendly girl and four other dogs. A circus, a care home, a farm and an abbey provide them with much needed safe havens whilst they are travelling, and also remind each of the dogs of the fun they had before their days living in kennels. The story has a happy ending, since Hal is allowed to keep Fleck and the other dogs have found themselves loving homes too.
One Dog and His Boy is the last work that Ibbotson completed before her death. It is a heart-warming tale that had me gripped. Illustrations at the start of each chapter add wonderfully to the unfolding plot, and complement the lovely descriptive language that the author uses.
Relationships are a key theme within this text, exploring the friendships children form, and also the differing bonds that humans have with dogs. This book is a useful way of showing children the need to be responsible citizens when around animals and how it is important to treat them with care and respect.
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