Release date: March 2012
Genre: Animal/ Adventure/ family story
Target audience: 8+
UK Publisher: Scholastic
All Hal has ever wanted is a dog, a loyal companion to keep him company and to love. Hal’s life is really rather lonely. His parents are rich, busy people. His dad often works away and his mum is obsessed with their clinical house and posh possessions. She will buy Hal anything he wants but not a pet. When Hal’s birthday arrives, he gets his hopes up that he will finally get a dog but he’s disappointed. Hal’s dad thinks up a secret plan: to rent Hal a dog for the weekend from Easy Pets Agency. But Hal has no idea that he’ll have to give his new best friend back. Will his heart break or will he find a way to keep his best friend?
One Dog and His Boy is a fantastic read. It's a tale of friendship and the bond between dog and boy. It's also a sweet adventure story. I selected it for our Year 4 book club. We have 7 boys in the group and 1 girl. They all loved it and so did I.
Hal’s story is really emotive. He’s a kind and sweet boy but his experience of being lonely must be familiar to many children who have busy parents. His mother is shallow and I didn’t like her at all. The dogs are the star performers in this book. Fleck is a hero of a little dog and so loving. Otto is a leader among dogs. They all have distinct personalities and there is a dog for everyone. We discussed which dog was our favourite and Otto was a popular choice.
There are lots of themes to discuss in One Dog and His Boy. We discussed the morality of keeping animals as pets, why people like to have their fortunes told and even the difference between stories and lies.
The movement between Hal’s story and the story of the Easy Pets Agency took a little bit of getting used to especially for my pupils. But the weaving between the two plots was cleverly done.
This book has the most satisfying ending. You find out how things work out for every character and it leaves you feeling content. I recommend this for all young book clubs. It has a universal appeal and is exquisitely written. A modern classic. Fantastic.
Source: Borrowed from the school library.
There are some great book group activities suggested on the Teaching Ideas site. I used the Sprocket Rhymes idea with my Year 4s and they really enjoyed it. Here is the LINK.
There are also some helpful reading group questions on the Scholastic website. Here is the LINK.