All Hal Fenton ever wanted was a dog. His rich parents are never around, and in any event don’t like messes, or spontaneity, or companionship – all things he knew he could get from a dog:
“Hal didn’t mind what it looked like; it would be alive, and it would belong to him, and it would be there when his father was in Dubai and his mother was out with her friends and he was alone in the house with the maid who changed every month and was always so homesick and so sad.”
Before his tenth birthday he virtually bombarded his parents with pleas and notes, and finally his father said okay, but not to what Hal thought. His father was going to take Hal to the Easy Pets Dog Agency where you could rent a dog for the weekend. He figured Hal would get tired of the dog very quickly, and would hardly notice when they returned it.
But Hal and the little mutt Fleck felt immediate and mutual devotion, and Hal’s mother had to trick Hal to get Fleck back to the agency. Hal, desperate, prepared to rescue Fleck and run away. At the agency, he won the assistance of the little girl Pippa who was helping to take care of the dogs. She not only went with him, but she freed all of Fleck’s other dog friends in Room A. All of them headed out to Hal’s grandparents, whom Hal knew would be accepting. Along the way they were chased by greedy adults after the large monetary reward publicized for Hal, but the two children also made a number of helpful and wonderful new friends. The dogs too found “soul mates” along the way. Thus, Hal and Pippa and all the dogs learned what it meant to feel as if you were “home,” and even Hal’s parents started to learn as well.
There are charming illustrations by Sharon Rentta.
Evaluation: How can you not love a book about dogs that don’t die? ….Only in this case, it was the author who died, days before seeing the page proofs for this book. She left lots of adoring fans behind, including me. This book is meant for middle grade readers, but will be endearing to readers of any age.
Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers, 2011