This was like a prequel to Hest's other boy and his dog book, The Reader. I liked this one more, because it's about disobedience in the face of a Catch-22. It was a better narrative because of that conflict than The Reader. I appreciate the 'boy and his dog' from The Reader more now since reading Lu's review, and might have liked to see these books as a chapter book or even a series, something to allow another conflict-based narrative to bookend with Charley around the more benign story of The Reader? [Hey, Lu, you changed your rating to a 2--did I bully you? I thought you were right on.]
Oxenbury does what she always does, pulling no punches on the darlingness. It's very quaint, familiar, and comfy. I like this style, and the subtle palette for this book made it even more palatable.