Sunday, 1 May 2011
Novel read in a day
The late and much-missed Eva Ibbotson is one of my favourite authors, and one I reach for when I'd like something comforting, the literary equivalent of hot chocolate. Whether it's Vienna-set The Star of Kazan or Madensky Square or the Amazonian Journey to the River Sea or A Company of Swans you have the comforting familiarity of niceness triumphant. Yes, there will be restrained evil relatives, mishaps and muddles, but you're heading for a happy ending. Ibbotson herself thought her adult novels were for people recovering from flu, but I'm a great believer in reading for a happy ending as well as reading new books. Her last book, One Dog and his Boy, has just been published after her death last year and will, I suspect, be a perfect read for children at the confident reader stage looking for animal adventures longer than those of Dick King Smith or having read Dodie Smith's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, but want a certain edge and modernity, so there are circuses (with the moral debate about performing animals), care homes and neglectful parents. This is a lovely book to read or have read to you as you see trusting animals, good grandparents and dog-lovers who go to great lengths to provide good homes for their four-legged friends. I haven't seen such an interesting story about animals including their thoughts and voices without being twee or over-emoting for quite a while and really enjoyed this gentle tale of friendship developing between humans and dogs - the right companion finds you, it seems.