I have a confession to make: before reading One Dog and His Boy I hadn't read, and didn't own, a single book by Eva Ibbotson. Her books have honestly never appealed to me, and it was only because I was sent a proof copy of this for review that I ever thought of picking it up. I'm not usually one for stories about animals (I only really like cats), so this was right out of my comfort zone. However, I'm really, really glad I read it, and I see now why Eva Ibbotson is one of Britain's most-loved children's authors. Sadly she passed away last year, and One Dog and His Boy was the last book she completed. She certainly went out in style, that's for sure.
One Dog and His Boy is such a lovely book, and is very near perfect. I can see readers of all ages falling in love with Hal and Fleck, just like I did, and it's all because of the writing and uplifting story. Basically, Hal has always wanted a dog, but his too-busy, too-house-proud parents won't ever let him have one. So they do the unthinkable: they hire Fleck for a weekend, and then return him. Hal is absolutely heartbroken, and sets off to get Fleck back from the Easy Pets dog rental business. They're accompanied by a girl called Pippa and four other dogs: Otto, Honey, Francine and Li-Chee.
What follows is a story of determination, love and the everlasting bond between one dog and his boy. Each dog has their own story, and each is resolved at the end. That was actually my favourite part of the book, and I'll admit it left me a bit choked up. I got to the end and just wanted to turn back to the beginning and read it again, just so I could stay with these characters - both human and canine - for a little longer. I even liked the two nasty hellhounds, Darth and Terminator, who try and chase our heroic group across a field. Aside from their genius names, it transpires that even they can be kind, compassionate dogs. Obviously they're not as cool as Fleck and Co., though!
Reading One Dog and His Boy gave me a new appreciation for my own dog, who I think I should probably spend more time with (Watch out, Spud!). I'm also now a fan of Eva Ibbotson, and will be hunting down more of her books very soon. I think everyone would enjoy One Dog and His Boy, along with its simple but brilliant drawings by Sharon Rentta. I'll be buying the hardcover for my collection, as I have no doubt that this is one I'll want to re-read!