Wednesday, 25 April 2012

One Dog and his Boy - Eva Ibbotson

I have been a fan of Eva Ibbotson for a while - around two years - after finding The Secret Countess on a bookshelf in my local library. I'd seen Ibbotson's most famous children's book Journey to the River Sea around but never been inspired to read it. I am more of a fan of her teenage fiction, having all her books (favourites are A Song for Summer and The Secret Countess).
So when I found out she has died, aged 85, in October 2010, I was devastated to find out this was it - no more new Eva Ibbotson books that I loved.
Until, I noticed this book in the book store I work in. This has been published posthumously as it was finished a couple of weeks before her death. Although, being 17, I don't normally read younger children's books, I knew I had to read this one. So when I walked into the library a couple of weeks ago and saw this, I picked it up without a second thought...

Synopsis: On Hal's 10th birthday, he finally gets what he always wanted - a dog. His parents never wanted a dog in their huge spot-less house so spoilt Hal with the latest toys to satisfy him but this changed when they found Easy Pets Dog Agency, renting Flick, a mogul, for the weekend. But when Flick is taking back distraught and Hal finds out the truth, he realises he must find a way to be with his dog, even if it means running away.

Review: I had my doubts whether I would like this book even if it was by one of my favourite authors.
Having got used to the serious issues and mature language of teenage or adult fiction, sometimes children's books, however good, are just TOO slow or TOO easy.
But I didn't need to worry about that for this book. Sure, the language and writing is much simpler than other more grown-up books, but this is done in such a way that you don't really notice this is a children's book and to make it universal for readers. I really had no problem with the writing - it was a nice break really.

The events in the book are pretty ridiculous really upon reflection, but because of it being a children's book, this did not distract me from reading the book itself. There are moments of sadness where I felt so sorry for the dogs and for Hal but also moments where I was smiling to myself at the funniness of the situation or the speech - it makes it an entertaining book completely.

Like many bloggers have said, this book does take you back to your childhood when you were Hal's age and had something you utterly loved and did not want to lose. For me, this is a small bear which I still own which I got when I was 1 named 'Baby Bear' - quite original, I know. This bear went everywhere with me when I was younger and when I left it at my grandparents house 45 minutes away, I cried so hard my dad had to drive back to retrieve it. Much like everyone's past experiences, there was so much relatability for me with Hal and Pippa in the book - I wanted to join them!

Although I thought most of the book would be about losing Flick, the majority is of his adventures running away with Pippa (her sister is Kayley who works at Easy Pets) and seeing the different (and hilarious) villains they encounter along the way as well as the numerous places they visit and get help from such as the circus and a children's care home. It makes you realise how really we can all help each other - there are just some 'villains' that won't allow that for their own benefit.

There are some really unique characters as well as the characters created through the dogs featured - I loved to hear the tales of Otto, Francine, Li-Chee and Honey, not only from the 'humans' in the story. The only character that annoyed me would be Hal's mother Albina - she was just too selfish and rude for me. Thankfully, she only features at the beginning and end - she did add a touch of humour and it turned out right in the end.

This is just such a wonderful read that both hosts a nice break from other fiction and also, makes me want to read more and more. It is an incredibly quick read and I think it would be best for perhaps parents and children to read together. The dogs really come to life here and you close the book at the end, having felt you made new friends for life with this animal characters. Like every children's story, there is the happy ending which it kind of inevitable, this one was really but it still came as a surprise and I was delighted with it. It is sad to think this is the last new Eva Ibbotson I will read but I think if she was still here, she should be completely happy with the finished result - for someone who is not a huge fan of children's fiction such as this, I found this book practically perfect.
Verdict: Everyone should read this - whatever age. Eva Ibbotson should be deeply remembered even if it's just for this book

I give it 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 271
Publisher: Marion Lloyd
Challenges: British Book Challenge


  1. I can't wait to check this one out! I love Ibbotsen - Especially the Secret Countess and the one about the swans? I forget the title but it's on my kindle! I find the morning gift a little weird in principle - will have to see about this children's book!

    1. Yes, The Secret Countess is one of my favourites too. A Song for Summer is also good.
      I haven't read A Company for Swans (I think that's what it's called anyway...) yet but I do have a copy of it so I will read it at some point - glad you like it.
      I thought the same thing about The Morning Gift - just wasn't what I was hoping for. Definitely check this out if you like Eva Ibbotson, this is as good.


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