'One Dog and His Boy' and more dog tales to enjoy

February 28, 2012 10:53 am

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Children and dogs are a classic combination in life and in literature. A good canine tale can be one that a young reader holds dear forever.

A few recently published dog stories have the potential to become life-long favorites.

Eva Ibbotson's "One Dog and His Boy" (Scholastic, $16.99, ages 8 up), focuses on Hal, whose wealthy self-centered British parents give him anything but the one thing he really wants -- a dog.

When they seemingly relent by letting him choose a dog for his birthday at Easy Pets, Hal ecstatically takes home Speck, a mutt who has been labeled a rare "Tottenham Terrier."

Hal soon finds that he has been duped. Easy Pets is a dog rental agency, not an adoption center.

When he learns that Speck has been returned at the end of their perfect weekend of boy/dog bonding, Hal retaliates. A day before he is to be shipped off to boarding school, he pretends to visit a friend but sets out to reclaim his dog. He plans to take Speck to his grandparents' cottage near the seashore.

Unfortunately his plan goes awry when he encounters 10-year-old Pippa, substituting for her older sister Kayley, the caregiver at Easy Pets. Pippa not only permits Hal and Speck to escape, but also liberates four other dogs.

The two children set off on a cross-country journey accompanied by Speck, Otto the rescue dog, Francine the poodle, Li-Chee the Pekingese and Honey the sheep dog.

Hal's frantic parents think he has been kidnapped and advertise a hefty reward. Soon the children are being chased by bumbling fortune hunters and hired detectives.

To escape discovery, they masquerade as circus performers, stay overnight in the basement of an orphanage and seek solace in a monastery. Ms. Ibbotson keeps the plot twists fairly believable while maintaining a light tone.

Jeanne Nikolaison is children's librarian at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Knoxville.
First Published 2012-02-27 23:10:09

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