Readers who have grown to love Ibbotson's bighearted heroes and larger-than-life adventure stories will relish this final novel, published after her death in 2010. It introduces Hal Fenton, a British boy who has everything except the thing he wants most, a dog. Mistakenly, Hal believes his wish has finally come true when his father lets him pick out a pup for his 10th birthday. When he finds out that Fleck, the terrier he's chosen, is only rented for the weekend, Hal is understandably furious. Fueled by his rage, he sets out to retrieve Fleck from the Easy Pets shop and run away to Northumberland to live with his grandparents. Hal's mission is complicated when four more dogs (and the girl who set them free) decide to come along. Traveling on foot, the group finds surprises aplenty as they meet villains (including a bumbling detective's assistant hired by Hal's parents) as well as advocates who offer refuge. In true Ibbotson form, the lives of unlikely acquaintances are colorfully threaded together, and all characters get exactly what they deserve. Ages 8-12. Agent: Stephanie Thwaites, Curtis Brown. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 3-6-In this-her last book-Ibbotson maintained her flair for characterization, madcap action, and a rollicking plotline. Hal has wanted a dog for as long as he can remember, but his status-hungry mother is more concerned with the pristine interior decoration of her home than the happiness of her son. His father is never home from work long enough to exert any sort of influence over the household. To Hal's delight, his father (having forgotten about his birthday) agrees to let him choose a dog the next morning. It's love at first sight. But to Hal's dismay-and that of the dog-Fleck is returned to the shop the next Monday because he was just rented for the weekend. Hal resolves to rescue Fleck and run away to the cottage by the sea where his sympathetic grandparents live and ends up abetting the escape of four other dogs, as well. Hal's parents hire a private eye and advertise a reward for the boy's return, so a host of nefarious characters pursues the runaways on their long journey, which involves side excursions to a circus, an orphanage, and a night with a sheep farmer. All of these complications provide ample play for Ibbotson's gentle chiding of human foibles and pretensions as well as a conclusion in which each dog has found the perfect home and Hal's parents have repented and reformed. This satisfying novel combines humor with heart to great effect-a lovely parting gift from the masterful storyteller.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.