Hal has everything money can buy, except that is for the one thing he longs for, a dog of his own. When Hal’s parents rent a dog for his birthday he thinks his dreams have come true, until he finds out his new pet has been returned after the weekend. Hal decides to take action of his own and so begins an adventure; involving an odd collection of dogs, a like-minded friend called Pippa and a quest across country to find sanctuary. Eventually all the runaway dogs find perfect homes and Hal is able to keep Fleck, the dog of his dreams.
This is a warm and appealing adventure story. It questions the notion that money can buy everything suggesting friendship, kindness, loyalty and respect are worth more than material things.
‘Leila and I really enjoyed One Dog and His Boy. As she is still a relatively new reader, I read a chapter to her each night and we would talk about themes and ideas after.
Leila does not yet have a strong concept of rich and poor, so we spent some time talking about the difference between being rich and poor. One part of the story describes Hal’s mum buying him a toy to replace Fleck and I asked Leila how she would feel if she was Hal, Leila thought it would be ok but when we talked about her favourite teddy ‘Ferrero’ and how she would feel if it was replaced with a new teddy she said another teddy would not be the same and she seemed to understand that Fleck could not easily be replaced with a toy.
Leila was really keen to find out more about the various dog breeds and we spent some time on google images looking up all the dogs in the story-this was really useful as throughout the story we could refer to this. Leila also became very interested in dog breeds while we were out walking-she would stop and talk to dog owners about their dog and ask about the breed.
I asked Leila what she thought about Hal stealing Fleck and the dogs being released?
Leila responded: ‘It was good for the dogs but bad for Mr Carker!’
Leila enjoyed making a missing poster for Hal and this also gave her a greater concept of how rich Hal’s parents are-when she had to include the large reward sum. It also encouraged her to think about what Hal looked like and how he might feel. In the end she decided to give him a sad face as she said: ‘He never seemed happy at home’.
Leila also enjoyed tracing Hal’s journey on a map. We discussed how long it would take to get from London to Berwick-upon-Tweed. And compared it to various journeys we had made over the summer.
Talk about the story
Things you might talk about include:
How Hal feels at different points in the story.
What his parents think about the idea of having a dog.
Reasons for and against Hal running away – what advice would you give him?
Whether Pippa did the right thing in releasing the dogs?
What you might tell someone else about the story.
Things to make and do
Write a note from Hal to his parents explaining why he has run away. Try out your ideas with an imaginary phone call first of all – you could role play the phone call together.
Make a missing child (or missing dogs!) poster as if it is from the MMM detective agency offering a reward.
Make a photo album of the dogs in their new homes with drawings and captions. You could use a scrap book or make a mini folded book.
Find out more
Look at a map of England to try to plot the runaway’s journey from London to Northumberland.
Read more books by Eva Ibbotson. Titles include:
Let Sleeping Sea Monsters Lie
Journey to the Riversea ( for older children)