All Hal ever wanted was a dog. His wealthy parents give him every toy and gizmo, all hand-wrapped and selected by the professionals at the upscale toy store, but a dog is out of the question. It might shed, make a mess or otherwise disturb the sparkling, germ-free mansion the staff has carefully created.

Crestfallen when his 10th birthday yields only a horrifying man dressed as a dog, Hal’s sadness nudges his father to finally get a dog. The catch is, this dog will come from Easy Pets, a dog rental agency. Figuring that a dog will be like every other “toy” in Hal’s life (discarded after a few days), Hal’s father misjudges the bond between boy and dog—and that’s when this story really gets going. Hal’s attachment to Fleck, as the little mongrel is called, is so instant and so deep that Hal’s anger and depression over his parents’ duplicity sends everyone into a tailspin when his mother returns Fleck without a word of warning.

Hal and Fleck are destined to be reunited, however, and in her final book, dog-lover Eva Ibbotson, who died in 2010, has created a reunion worthy of cinema. Hal is convinced that his grandparents in Northumberland will be better parents for him and his dog. New friend and accomplice Pippa, whose family thinks she is at sleepaway camp, joins him on an adventure worthy of The Incredible Journey.

Though Ibbotson didn’t live long enough to see this charmer in print, her love of animals comes through on every page. Parents, be careful: One Dog and His Boy will certainly make young readers long for a Fleck of their own.

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